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Welcome to Crafty Frugal Mom

Welcome to Crafty Frugal Mom, where I share anything related to parenting, as well as a number of other topics you may enjoy. While the main topic is parenting, you’ll find a little of everything from health and safety to fitness and nutrition, education, do it yourself, and a variety of other topics.

I hope that you find my posts enjoyable and informative. Feel free to use my contact page to send me suggestions of topics you would like to see addressed here and I hope you enjoy the site.

To connect with me on social networks, follow me on Twitter @craftyfrugalmom, like my Facebook fanpage, friend me on Facebook, or follow me on StumbleUpon.

10 Healthy Alternative Discipline Methods to Spanking

A while back ago, I wrote a post analyzing whether spanking is discipline or abuse, in which I expressed my own thoughts opposed to spanking, but also provided research and viewpoints from both sides. Now that we know that I am opposed to spanking, and that most people would agree it should be an absolute resort if it is used, here are some alternative discipline methods that you can try that will not harm your children. The effectiveness of these will vary from one child to the next, and even based on age, but they should all be tried to figure out what works best for your child.

Redirection

Ball
This is one of the simplest, and quite likely the best first response to try. If your child is throwing hard toys, for example, take the hard toys away and in their place, give the child a toy that is meant to be thrown, or at least one that is soft and won’t hurt anything, like a ball or a stuffed animal. If they are expressing anger, for example hitting or kicking, place them in a safe area and teach them an alternate means of expressing their anger. You might give them an object that it is okay for them to hit and let them get it out of their system. This will help teach them self control. All humans have violent tendencies, but most adults have learned to manage those feelings. Children, on the other hand, are uninhibited and thus lack the control to avoid these feelings sometimes, so an alternative method of expression should be offered. Regardless of the situation, redirection can be a powerful tool for parents to teach their children what is and is not acceptable.

Removal of Toys

For some children, having a favorite toy or a number of toys taken away is a great motivator. When children value things, it increases the meaning when those things are removed. For example, I used to tell my son that if he left any toys out of his closet when I told him to put them away and I found them out on the floor, I would take them away. Now when I tell him it’s time to put his toys away, he almost always gets every last one of them picked up and into the closet. The possibility of losing them, in this case, has proven to be an effective deterrent to leaving them lying around.

Standing in the corner

Growing up, standing in the corner proved an effective discipline method for me, although not so much for my stepbrother. I hated standing in the corner, so if I got into trouble to where I had to do so, I would keep my nose in the corner as was expected of me. However, my stepbrother kept taking his nose away from the corner. This caused me to get out of the corner on time, but my stepbrother to end up adding time to how long he would stay there. I would get to go off and play while he was still stuck there. Kids don’t like to be bored so this can be effective.

Grounding

When I was a kid, grounding didn’t prove as effective as it does for some children. However, I believe that if done right, it would have. My mother had a tendency to ground me for a week, then let me off after three days if I behaved the entire time. This is okay to do once in a while, but not every time because the child grows to expect it and it’s easy enough to be good long enough to get off grounding. If a child is to receive a punishment, they should be expected to endure that punishment for as long as is deemed necessary. I see it as teaching them the same way our criminal justice system works. If a criminal is only on their first offense, and it is relatively minor, they may get out on good behavior. However, if it is more severe or a second offense or more, the person is less likely to be released early. I am a strong proponent of teaching a child much the same way that the adult world works.

In addition, if a child is to be grounded, they should not be confined to a room with a television and video games and all sorts of other fun things. That is not a punishment at all, and entirely defeats the purpose. Parents should ground their children from things that they know are of high value to them in order to get the desired effect.

Early bedtime

If I even warn my son he is going to go to bed early, he gets fussy. If he continues and actually earns an early bedtime, he really gets upset. However, I always talk with him and make sure he knows what he did in order to cause himself to go to bed early. He usually understands with little or no explanation from me, but I do tend to reinforce it to him. I think it is highly important for a child to understand what they are being punished for, regardless of the circumstances.

Refusal to do fun activities

On a few occasions, I have used this technique with my son. I have refused to take him to the park to play when he gets fussy and moody. He doesn’t like it, but he has to understand that he will only do fun things in public when he is behaving himself. The more this is reinforced, the more the child will realize what they have done wrong and that they need to correct it.

extra chores

This is probably more effective for children that are a bit older and understand the concept, although I have used this with my own 4-year-old before. He used to get into his chest of drawers and pull out every article of clothing in it, unfold them and drag them everywhere. One day, I put everything from that chest of drawers into the washer and dryer and then told him to fold them all, every single one. He usually likes to help and doesn’t mind small loads, but he got distracted and frustrated with the large load, and I explained to him why he was having to fold them all. Ever since then, he has never taken the clothes from his chest of drawers without permission.

Paying for things

Five Dollar Bill
If your child damages or breaks something, don’t just let them get away with it, and don’t just eat the cost yourself. In serious enough cases, you may need to initially pay for the damage in order to settle disputes with third parties, but regardless of whether it is something of yours that is broken or damaged or something belonging to someone else, always have the child pay for the damage, one way or another. If they are old enough to work and make money, even if they aren’t legal working age but can make a few bucks mowing lawns or something, expect them to do that at least until the debt is paid. It doesn’t hurt for them to be responsible and continue doing these types of things even afterward though.

Visiting Your Local Jail

Jail Cell
This one is only recommended for serious infractions, in which you can see the beginnings of your child heading down the wrong path, but for some children, seeing people who are actually suffering the consequences to similar actions to their own may be enough of a deterrent to redirect them. Sometimes, even witnessing consequences before being physically faced with them is enough of a wake up call to jolt a child back off that road. People, like animals, do not enjoy captivity as a general rule, and will do whatever is necessary to avoid it.

Enroll Your Child in Sports or Martial Arts

If your child’s problems center around excessive energy, unhealthy release of agressive tendencies, or a variety of other factors, sports or martial arts may be an effective way for them to release pent up energy and agression in a constructive manner that is not harmful to others. It may also teach teamwork and cooperation, important skills throughout one’s lifetime.

It is important to teach children appropriate versus inappropriate behavior from an early age, and to reinforce those lessons as much as possible. However, I believe that spanking is counterproductive to this goal, and can even increase aggression and decrease control. The above suggestions are just a few ideas to teach children acceptable behavior without harming them or causing them further issues.

What other discipline methods have you tried using with your child? How effective were they? What other methods have you used or seen used that seem ineffective? Feel free to share.

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Guest Post: All you need to know about swaddling

This is a guest post by Melissa Stevens. We hope that you find it interesting and informative.

Being a new parent can be really frustrating. There are numerous things you need to learn in order to make your baby healthy and satisfied. One of the most common mysteries for every parent is swaddling. We hear about it in the hospital or on the internet all the time, but most people aren’t sure what it actually represents. Well, swaddling is one of the simplest methods used for centuries, which makes a baby calm and safe. If you don’t know how to swaddle your newborn properly or you’re afraid to do that, don’t despair. All you need is just a little practice. Here are some basic tips on how to do that!

Why should I swaddle my baby?

Swaddling is of vital importance for several reasons. Firstly, you need to be aware that your baby spent nine months in a really tight space, feeling safe and sound. Swaddle blankets simulate a womb and give your baby a sense of coziness during sleep. Secondly, by swaddling babies, we will make them warm and comfortable all the time. Coming to this noisy and colorful world, babies react to everything that happens around them. Since it resembles mothers tummy, apart from providing safe environment, swaddling also soothes your baby, helps them sleep faster and protects them from getting overly stimulated. If you have noticed that your baby has started jerking during sleep, it’s completely normal. Their reflexes are being developed and a proper blanket will prevent your baby from scratching their face and allow them to move arms and legs freely.

Swaddling your baby
Image source Raoul Snyman

When should I swaddle my baby?

You shouldn’t keep your baby tightly swaddled all the time. During the day, you should let your baby sleep without a swaddling blanket or with a really loose one. Being swaddled all day long, a baby will feel really comfortable and settle back to sleep over and over again. On the contrary, you should swaddle your baby up tight at night in order to make them sleep longer.

What kind of blanket should I use?

One of the most important steps while swaddling is choosing a perfect blanket. Swaddles are made out of various fabrics, but not all of them are comfortable and healthy enough for your baby. For example, you should avoid elastine and stick to muslin or 100% cotton baby swaddles that allow your baby to move their arms and legs freely and to sleep in their natural position. Most importantly, simulating the uterus, quality baby swaddles provide your baby with the sense of safety and help them to settle back to sleep faster.

How should I swaddle my baby?

Swaddling takes a little practice, but once you figure it out, you will be surprised how easy it actually is. Firstly, you should lay a swaddle in a diamond shape, fold the top corner down and place a baby on the top. Make sure that your baby is in the right position- head needs to be just above the fold, shoulders below it, while arms should be down to side. The next step is bringing left side of the swaddle across baby’s chest and tucking it under the opposite arm. Now, you should fold the bottom of the blanket over your baby’s feet and pull its right side of the swaddle across your baby’s chest. Finally, you just need to wrap the rest of the blanket under your baby and make sure that it’s properly secured. As simple as that!

All in all, swaddling is one of the most common techniques that will make your baby safe, comfortable and calm all the time. It will also contribute to your baby’s self-soothing and longer sleep. Most importantly, it’s really simple. So, choose a perfect swaddle blanket for your baby and get started!

Have you tried swaddling a baby? Have you considered doing it? What have your experiences been? Feel free to share any questions or comments below.

How to Break Your Food Addiction for Fast Weight Loss?

This is a guest post by Ella James. I hope that you find it useful and informative.

How to Break Your Food Addiction for Fast Weight Loss
It is possible to have an addiction to food in the same way people would to alcohol or drugs. People who are addicted to food find themselves constantly thinking about food, and this will inevitably lead to overeating. Even if you know that you need to lose weight, being able to do something about it when you are addicted to food is very difficult. There are steps that can be taken to help you deal with this addiction and to be able to start to eat healthier, but you first need to understand why you may have this addiction.

Food Addiction is a Behavior Issue

Food addiction does not necessarily mean that that you are addicted to one particular food. If you find yourself constantly wanting to eat even when you are not hungry then this may be a behavioural issue as you are likely to be eating in order to distract yourself when you are bored or to help you deal with a stressful situation. As time goes on you will find that you need more food in order to relieve your boredom or to feel less stressed. The more calories that you consume, the more weight you will put on which can lead to a number of health risks.

What are the Signs of Food Addiction?

There are a number of signs that you may have an addiction to food. If you are already thinking about what you will be eating later even if you are eating at the moment, then this could be a sign of addiction. Other signs include eating the food that you are craving as soon as possible, for example eating the food that you have just purchased as soon as you leave the store or being unable to resist the item you have bought for dessert and eating it before you have even eaten your main meal. You may also find that you are unable to leave food that is leftover in the kitchen and will just keep eating it until it has all gone.

What are the Dangers of Food Addiction?

The biggest danger of food addiction is that you will gain a lot of weight in a short space of time. You will also continue to gain weight as the amount you eat is likely to increase over time. Being overweight can lead to a number of serious health conditions including respiratory problems, heart disease and even certain types of cancer. Having a food addiction can also affect your mental health. Thinking about food all the time can make it hard to concentrate on anything else, and you may also experience feelings of guilt whenever you have eaten something that you know you shouldn’t have. All of these feelings may start to get on top of you after a while. It can also cause you financial problems if you are always spending money on food that you do not really need, and this may impact further on your mental health.

How Can You Break the Cycle?

The longer that you have had this addiction, the more difficult it is likely to be to learn to break from the pattern of behavior that leads you to overeat. However, there are techniques that you can learn to help you deal with certain situations and over time you will find it easier to handle these situations by using these techniques. Keeping a food journal can help you assess what you are eating and when which can be useful in recognizing which foods you ate even though you weren’t hungry. By knowing that you will have to write it down, it may help you to question whether you need to eat at that time or whether you are just doing it out of habit.

Conclusion

Having a food addiction makes it very likely that you will be overeating on a daily basis that will inevitably lead to weight gain. The addiction can have long-term effects on both your mental and physical health, and if you suspect you may be suffering from a food addiction then you should seek help as soon as possible. There are steps that you can take to help you overcome this addiction but it is something that you are likely to find difficult, and it will require a lot of hard work on your part.

References:

https://www.consumerhealthdigest.com/weight-loss/

https://www.glozine.com/lifestyle/health

Author Bio:

Ella James is an aspiring author who is pursuing Health Services Administration degree from St. Petersburg College. She is an active contributor to Consumer Health Digest, which is a leading Health News Website. Her interests include reading and writing about Pregnancy, Parenting, Health, Fitness, and Beauty. Get connected with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Guest Post: How to Encourage Kids to Eat Healthy

This is a guest post by Zyana Morris and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Crafty Frugal Mom. I hope that you find it useful and informative.

The hardest part about raising children is getting them to eat healthy food – after potty training of course. Whether it’s deep fried chicken nuggets or fries, truckloads of sugar coated candy or literally peculiar looking things off the floor, kids love eating junk. Show them anything green and healthy, and they’ll flee like bees.

While the junk that they eat off the floor puts them at the risk of contracting dangerous contagious infections, eating unhealthy food can contribute to the early onset of several health related problems such as obesity, diabetes, cardiac diseases and weak bones as they grow.

Watch over what your kids are eating… or plate them up some healthy options that they’d enjoy over the regular.

A healthy breakfast

A Healthy Breakfast

Milk is smell, it tastes weird, and it’s also every child’s early morning nightmare. Trying to get your kids to drink milk in the morning is like testing your own physical fitness. But the truth is that milk is a lot more than just important for growing children. It’s the best source of dietary Calcium and Vitamin D, both of which are essential for the healthy growth and development of bones and muscles. Not getting enough of these minerals weakens the bones and causes fractures in children.

The good part is that a bit of flavor almost always does the trick. It changes the taste and the aroma into something a lot more pleasant that children enjoy drinking. Some syrup or powder, or even the ones that come in tetra packs are a fun substitute for the regular flavor. You can even whip them up a milkshake with a bit of cream to make drinking milk a lot more enjoyable.

Or try alternating milkshakes with oats and milk in a cereal bowl. The oats are a healthy source of fiver that will make them feel full and prevent them from overeating during the day.

Yummy lunch

Yummy Lunch

Lunch… or even supper for that matter, is that one big fat healthy meal that is ideally supposed to account for most of our protein intake apart from other nutrients. All proteins are essential, but there are some that the body cannot make on its own – essential amino acids. And this is exactly why your kids do need to have healthy portions of meat in their diets.

What a lot of parents end up doing is mock up a plate of greasy nuggets and burgers for their kids. It’s yummy and the kids love it but it’s definitely not the healthiest of options. The deep fried food that you serve as a quick fix is high on saturated fats and cholesterol that are a hurdle on the road to building a healthy heart for the future. Not to mention, this junk food is also responsible for a lot of kids being obese from a young age.

Instead of taking the easy route by fixing up a plate of unhealthy, put in a bit of effort and go for something a bit more savory like a bowl of pasta tossed with meatballs. In fact, boneless chicken would be an even better idea since chicken is lower on harmful fats. The pasta is boiled and just requires a slight drizzle of olive oil. The chicken too can be cooked in a vinaigrette instead of being fried in too much oil. And as the perfect accomplice, give them a glass of fortified orange juice instead of a fizzy.

Snack Attack

Snake Attack

Even French kids don’t love French fries as much as the Americans do. But the problem is that it’s a snack that is soaking with oil and is nowhere near healthy.

Potatoes are an excellent source of fiber which is good for proper bowel movements. And considering that children are experts at eating the wrong things at the wrong times, it’s very important they take in a healthy quantity of fiber so that at least the passage of food through their alimentary canal remains smooth. So yea, sliced potatoes make an excellent snack, but they’d be a lot better baked than fried. Cut them up, into wedges, drizzle some olive oil and some salt and throw them in the oven for a couple of minutes. You could even try these grilled potato packets – anything would work, as long as it’s not deep fried.

Satisfying the sweet tooth

Satisfying The Sweet Tooth

Children have a strong affinity for confectionary. Letting them dig into a chocolatey delight or a sugar-coated donut once in a while isn’t bad, but you’re better off trying to put them on healthier options for their sweet cravings.

A scoop of ice-cream or a cup of flavored sweet yogurt with some sliced fruits tossed in it is a great idea for a kid’s dessert – though most would pick the one with ice-cream instead of yogurt. While the ice-cream adds that ‘thing’ that kids enjoy, the fruits contribute for a healthy nutritional intake of vitamins, carbs and antioxidants that the body can use for multiple reasons.

Working on a healthy diet plan for your kids is of course a tedious task. But in the longer run, it is better for their growth and development into healthy individuals. So whatever you do, make sure that what you’re giving your kids is healthy – even if you have to force it down their throats.

What other things do you do to help promote healthy eating in your children?

$100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Welcome to the $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Hosted by

StellarManicMommy2

“As a mother I often find it to be easier to shop online instead of loading up the kids and driving to the store. If your like me then you
probably feel the same way, and thankfully we now have the option to shop from the comforts of our own home. As a thank you to all of my subscribers, followers,
and friends I wanted to offer a great giveaway. Thank you so much for the great success you have helped me achieve, for your loyal following, and for keeping
up with me! A blogger is only as successful as the work they output, and thanks to my fans I am able to continue to achieve my goals. I hope you enjoy
this giveaway! Good luck to all those who enter! ” – Amanda Young from StellarManicMommy2

Now a big thank you to our CoHosts

Amyamp;
Aron’s Real Life Reviews
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Disclosure:This is a sponsored post on behalf of StellarManicMommy2. The participating bloggers advertising
this giveaway are not responsible for prize fulfillment. One winner will be randomly selected using the Giveaway Tools random selector and notified via email by the hosts of this giveaway, StellarManicMommy2. Once notified, the winner will have 24 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest or Google. Void where prohibited. Open to 18+ U.S. and Canada.

Pronunciation Poem for Preschoolers: The Purple Turtle

Purple Turtle made from plastic canvas and yarn
This is a short and silly, but useful poem, which I created to help my son with his pronunciation of words like purple and turtle, and other similar words. At present, he says them more like purpih, which is not the correct pronunciation, but I am going to try using this poem to assist him in learning how to say these words correctly. I wanted to share with all of you so that you may try this with your own children if they encounter a similar pronunciation issue.

There once was a purple turtle.
He tried to jump over a hurdle.
But he was wearing a girdle.
He decided to grow a crepe myrtle.
But it was infertile.
He wanted some milk but it began to curdle.
Poor luck was had by the purple turtle.

This is a short and sweet but cute poem that has lots of rhyming words with the ‘le’ sound at the end of each line which is great practice for pronunciation. Even if it’s not the ‘le’ sound your child has an issue with, creating a poem for them to practice like this one is a great way to enhance their language skills. If you do have a child that has a hard time with the ‘le’ sound, feel free to teach them this poem.

What is the most common or longest running pronunciation issue your child has faced? Do you remember your own pronunciation difficulties? What other things might you suggest to help practice and improve pronunciation skills? Share your thoughts, and if your child does have this specific problem, let me know if this poem helps or not.

To connect with me on social networks, follow me on Twitter @craftyfrugalmom, like my Facebook fanpage, friend me on Facebook, or follow me on StumbleUpon.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words Contest

Crafty Frugal Mom has decided to run another great contest for everyone to participate in. This contest will be an excellent opportunity for you to demonstrate your creativity and be seen by other readers.

In this contest, I have selected a photo shown below. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, your job is to write approximately one thousand words, with a range above and below of about ten words, so between 990 and 1,010, about the picture. You can either describe how the picture makes you feel, create a story based on the picture, or pretty much anything goes.

Then you submit the text only story to me at craftyfrugalmom at gmail dot com, email address deliberately broken, or through my contact form. I will word count it to ensure that it falls within the rules of the contest.

At the end of the contest period, I will choose one (1) winner to receive $25 PayPal cash and they as well as two (2) runners up will have their posts published on my site along with the original picture. When sending entries, please give me the name you would like me to use on the posts and contest page, whether it is your real name or a pseudonym. Please also include your PayPal email address and, if you would like a link back to a website, please include this in your submission as well. I will not chase anyone down for these details later. If you do not include all of the required information, you will be disqualified, and if you do not specify how you wish to be listed, I will have to simply use my own discretion. Entry into this contest constitutes approval to publish your name and work on this site.

The contest period ends May 31, 2015 at 12am midnight central standard time. Any submissions received after that time, even if it is 12:01, will not be accepted. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding this contest.

Please share and promote this contest to everyone that you know. The more, the merrier, and if the contest ends up being popular, I may do similar ones in the future, giving you more chances to win.

And now, the picture to be used for your submissions is shown below. I hope you enjoy this contest, and even if you don’t participate, I hope you enjoy reading the winning submissions when posted. Good luck!

Black cat laying down with head up, ears perked up and eyes wide open.

To connect with me on social networks, follow me on Twitter @craftyfrugalmom, like my Facebook fanpage, friend me on Facebook, or follow me on StumbleUpon.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Guest Post: How to Grow Your Own Fruit Trees from Seeds

Peaches
Although most fruit trees are usually grown from saplings, spices such as peaches, nectarines and apricots can be grown from their seeds. The secret is in the unique biology of their seed, which protected in its pit carries the desirable genetic traits of its parent tree. On the other hand, apples, pears and some other pears are best grown from grafts which then maintain the traits of their rootstock. Select a tasty and juicy specimen, in summer, when the mid- or late-season varieties are fully ripe and you can have your own harvest in only three to five years.

Going Local

Always look for local grown cultivars as they are more likely to flourish in your garden than some distant varieties. When you remove the pits, let them dry inside for a couple of days. In this way the seed which is inside will shrink a bit, and make it easier to take out. The pit will also become more brittle and easier to crack. The seeds look like almonds which are botanically related species. You can use a hammer for cracking a few pits, but on longer runs you’ll end up with a good number of crushed seeds and inevitably few fingers. A better option is to use a vice, holding the long pit seams between the jaws.

Planting the Seed

Apricot
Unlike the vegetables and flowers, which take only a few days or weeks to sprout from seeds to plants, the situation with peaches, apricots and nectarines is different. Pregermination process with these fruit trees can take two or three months. These seeds contain natural sprouting delayers which prevent it from sprouting during winter. It means that this delaying mechanism must be deactivated by exposing the seeds to cool temperatures for a two- or three-month’s period. Plant the seeds in separate pots and bury the pots in a corner of the garden. Unless they are dug out by dogs, squirrels or other furry hunter-gatherers, the seeds should sprout in spring.

Seeding Stratification

You can also outsmart the seeds and trick them into sprouting earlier in spring. This method is called cold, moist stratification. For an ideal stratification chamber you can use your fridge, because it maintains perfect stratification temperatures which vary from 0 to 7 °C. If you want to preprogram your seeds for the best growing timetable, start with the chilling process about four months before your last spring frost date. The chilling period will be shorter if you planted seeds from a warmer region cultivars. Soak the seeds in room temperate water overnight and plant them in a jar of semi moist potting soil. Now they are ready for the fridge.

Keeping Seeds in the Fridge

You should check the jars after a month. After they’ve spent some time in a pleasant cool and moist environment, most of the seeds will sprout at the same time. The sprouting time may vary, depending on the fruit, but the normal pregermination period is from one to three months for most species, while apricots can take only four or six weeks. Once they have “chilled out”, they are ready to grow. When the first white sprouts appear out of the soil, you should let them stay in the refrigerator if the weather is still frosty.

Potting and Planting

A month before your last frost date, you can replace the sprouts into pots or plant them in your garden where you want them to grow. In a recent chat with the people who own and operate Sydney-based company Priority Trees, I discovered that you can make very effective pots out of waxed paper milk cartons, in which you will punch drainage holes on the bottom. In this way, you can simply cut away the bottom and plant the sprouts when the time comes, without disturbing the root.

The Growth

The ideal growing conditions for peaches and similar species consist of fertile, well-drained soil with a near-neutral pH. If the soil in your garden stays wet after rains, dump some well-drained soil and form a mound 3-foot wide and one foot high for each sapling. Go easy with pruning, and use it only to remove dead, diseased or broken stems, and those that are growing too low on the trunk.

Natural Pest Protection

As the tree grows, form a circle of organic mulch, such as compost, leaf mold or straw over the root and keep it a few inches away from the trunk to avoid rot. Keep the rodent from biting on a trunk by wrapping it with a quarter-inch mesh cloth. Insects can be stopped from boring into the bark for laying eggs by wrapping the trunk with garden row cover.

Eventually, growing your very own fruit trees from seeds is certainly a rewarding venture, providing you with the opportunity to obtain healthy, affordable fruit for years to come. If you have a patch of land for it, you’d be crazy not to do it. Don’t you agree?

Have you ever grown your own fruit trees? If so, which ones? What was your experience in doing so? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Happy 4th Birthday To My Little Man

Large Bright Yellow Birthday Balloon
This post is a few days delayed, as my son’s actual birthday was April 1st, but he had his party yesterday so I wanted to hold off until I had everything I wanted to include. The balloon pictured was the largest of several provided by my mom for the party. It now is tied to the back of his chair at the dining table, until it runs out of helium to keep it afloat, or until he next decides to throw a tantrum and have it taken away, but keeping my fingers crossed he chooses not to do so.

He has a variety of interests, several of which were appealed to with the gifts that he received. He loves cars, buses, airplanes, basically anything with an engine, tools, balls, and a variety of other things. He also wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. In addition to that, he also said he wants a bike for his birthday and, in his own words, a “bunny bunny bunny bunny.”

You're My Little Bunny BookBirthday Bunny Family, 5 bunnies of different shapes, sizes., and colors
Since he said he wanted a “bunny bunny bunny bunny,” we went a little bunny crazy for his birthday this year. Believe it or not, this had absolutely nothing to do with Easter and everything to do with what he wanted. I bought him several books, about half of which were bunny themed, including the book above, ‘You’re My Little bunny,’ ‘The Velvetine Rabbit,’ ‘Rabbit Gets Lost,’ ‘It’s Not Easy Being A Bunny,’ and a few others. Also, since he said he wanted a bunny four times, I bought him four bunnies and my mom bought him one as well. In the photo, the back left one is hers and the rest are ones I purchased. He really loves all of them, but my favorite is the back right one as it is very fluffy and about the size of a real bunny.

Birthday Dump TruckBirthday Remote Control SpaceshipBirthday Tow Truck With Five Cars
Since he loves all manner of vehicles, he got a nice variety of those as well. At his party, all of the kids wanted to play with his new cars, and he got a bit selfish about that, but I told him that he needed to share his toys when he has friends over. I always emphasize that if he shares with others, they’ll be more likely to share with him. It wasn’t until after he repeatedly refused to share that I said if he didn’t share, I would take them all away, which ended up resulting in an immediate cease to his fussing and a willingness to let others play with his toys. I don’t like to get to that point, because I want him to know the joy of sharing with others and making them happy, but I am also not going to reward him if he chooses not to. To be honest though, at his party, all of the kids got just a little cranky at one point or another.

Empty Bouncy House or MoonwalkBirthday Cupcakes
Speaking of his party, I own a decent sized bouncy house, also known as a moonwalk, which we set up in the yard for the kids to play in. My little man and one of his friends were quick to get in and jump around, but the others were more hesitant. In the end, they all jumped in and enjoyed it though. Since my son is allergic to dairy, my mom located a recipe for non-dairy cupcakes, which also did not require eggs, something else he is allergic to, and made them. Unfortunately my son didn’t like them, but everyone else said they were pretty good, especially considering they had no milk or eggs. Overall the party was pretty awesome, and we had a great time.

Sidewalk Chalk Heart With Smiley FaceSidewalk Chalk HouseToy Camera on Left, Toy Binoculars on Right
He also got some sidewalk chalk for his birthday. I immediately allowed him to choose one piece and take it outside to draw with. He used the entire stick of chalk within about half an hour. I did some drawing, including the heart with the smiley face that my mom says looks evil and I didn’t close the bottom of, but my son did most of the work, including the other picture he drew of a house. He thoroughly enjoyed his chalk and he still has about eleven sticks left. When they run out, I may have to stalk him up on some more.

He also received a toy camera and binoculars, pictured above, and two toy flashlights, not pictured. I’d say he made out quite nicely, with lots of goodies for his birthday. He still wants a bike and he doesn’t yet know that I am planning to get him one, but I haven’t gotten it yet and intend to surprise him with it. Still, he’s come a long way because last year, my mom and I wanted to buy him a tricycle, but all he wanted to do at the store was pull them off the shelf and push them around. He threw a tantrum if we tried to get him to sit on one. Now he says he rides a bike at school, and he rode one that we were looking at at a store. He also says he wants to learn how to swim, when last year he was super clingy, so maybe this is the year. In addition, he also got really really scared of going on even the smallest of rides at Six Flags last year, but now says he wants to ride the train, cars, and airplanes. Last year he was fascinated by watching the adults ride the roller coasters, his eyes glued to them as they passed, but he freaked out on everything, including the water rides, though he did go on them and ended up laughing before he got off. I think he’ll have much more fun this year.

My little man is growing up and I can’t believe he’s already four years old, and how far he’s come even in just one year. I look forward to continuing to watch him learn and grow into a wonderful young man.

What do you do for your kids’ birthdays? What kinds of things do they like? What about things like swimming, bike riding, and amusement parks? At what age did they most enjoy these types of things? Feel free to share in the comments.

To connect with me on social networks, follow me on Twitter @craftyfrugalmom, like my Facebook fanpage, friend me on Facebook, or follow me on StumbleUpon.

How To Discuss Drugs With Young Children

Beer Can
Yesterday, on the way to the bus stop to take my son to his preschool, we found a partially empty beer can on the ground in the walking path. This triggered a conversation about drugs, such as alcohol and cigarettes specifically, and how they are bad and what they can do to your body. I started with alcohol.

My son wants to be an astronaut when he grows up, so I’ve told him that to do so, he’ll have to stay sharp and smart and go to school to study about being one. He loves school, so he gets really excited about that. I’ve told him that alcohol, especially in large quantities, can make you less smart and can damage your body.

With this specific beer can, I told him it was a sign of the people doing something that was not smart in three ways, not that they weren’t smart but that what they were doing wasn’t smart. The three ways I told him are as follows.

1. The first thing they did that wasn’t smart was drink it in the first place. This is made worse by the fact that I believe I have seen signs of alcohol from that house before, meaning that they aren’t just infrequent drinkers. I told him that people who drink a lot have bad judgment and can damage their bodies even more.

2. The fact that the can wasn’t empty means that these people are wasteful and don’t seem to care about letting things go to waste. If they’ll let their drink go to waste, who knows what else they are wasting without a care in the world?

Trash or Recycle Bin for our community
3. The third not so smart thing these people did was to litter, dropping the can on the ground and leaving it there, especially when there are trash and recycle bins at every single home in our community. That can could have gone in either one of them, rather than being tossed on the ground.

In addition, I also told him that beer is bitter and doesn’t taste very good. I did not tell him about the alcohol that does taste better, for now, as the point is to deter him and make sure he knows that it is bad. As an adult, it is okay on very rare occasions and in appropriate moderation, but for the purposes of a child, all alcohol is bad. I also told him that his great grandfather died, in part but largely due to cirrhosis of the liver, caused by excessive drinking. My grandfather drank alcohol pretty much 24/7 all of his life. He had a beer when he woke up and a beer when he went to bed, and pretty much was only sober when he was asleep. He had other conditions in addition to the cirrhosis of the liver, but that was a large part of what ultimately killed him.

Marlboro Cigarettes
That lead into a discussion about cigarettes, as my grandmother that died seven months ago did so largely due to her lung cancer, which was caused by fifty-three years of chain cigarette smoking. She was four days shy of her 70th birthday and could have probably lived much longer if she hadn’t smoked.

I told him that I wasn’t saying these things about his great grandparents to speak ill of them, and in fact I do not speak ill of the dead, but rather to enlighten him to the mistakes they made in their lives so that he doesn’t make the same ones. I know that this is something they would want me to do. My grandmother smoked like a freight train, but she always told me she’d be extremely displeased with me if I ever took it up. I have never even been slightly tempted by it.

I know that at four years old, my son will not fully understand the things that we have discussed, but that is okay. We can always have the conversation again and again, and in fact he will probably bring it up and ask me more questions, and I am happy to enlighten him. I am not a fan of the ‘Just Say No’ campaign, as it neglects to educate children about the dangers of drugs, legal or otherwise, and simply insists that they should turn them down. I think it is far more important for children to be able to make an informed decision, and if we educate them when they are young, rather than waiting until they are most likely to be pressured, they can make an informed decision before they are forced to and will be more likely to stick to it despite peer pressure.

What age did you start discussing the dangers of drugs with your children? What did you say to them?Feel free to share any questions, comments, or advice that you may have with all of us below.

To connect with me on social networks, follow me on Twitter @craftyfrugalmom, like my Facebook fanpage, friend me on Facebook, or follow me on StumbleUpon.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia and self.

The Dad Network

Spring Break Adventure at the Portland Zoo

Not long ago, over my spring break, my son stayed with my mom while I went to Portland, Oregon to see some friends and look for places to potentially move into once I graduate college in May 2016. While I was there, a friend and I visited the Portland Zoo and had a blast. We were supposed to meet some other people there, but never got connected with them. Still, we had plenty of fun nonetheless and I got some nice photos that I will share with you all.

Portland Zoo Condor Rehabilitation SignPortland Zoo Two Giraffes and Reflection on WaterPortland Zoo Speke's Gazelle Sign
The Portland Zoo is part of a condor rehabilitation program, in which condors are hand raised, taught to avoid humans, and eventually released back into the wild. I think this is an excellent endeavor and it is one small thing that humans can do to help correct some of the damage we have done to the natural world. Of course we still have a long way to go before we’ve even scratched the surface of fixing things, and some of the damage is irreparable, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Near the condor enclosure, there is an informative video that plays on a loop about this program.

African wildlife is among the most diverse and easily my favorite geographic location, so we spent lots of time in that part of the zoo. We started with this pair of giraffes, and I was quite surprised at how the picture turned out given that I am visually impaired and cannot see the camera screen. I simply pointed it toward the giraffes and had to keep my fingers crossed they made it into the photo, but the results were much better than I expected as I thought for certain I’d only be able to capture one of them. The funny thing is that I took several photos, and the first wasn’t very good, but they kept getting progressively better and better until I ended up with this one, the last giraffe photo I took.

For $2.50 you can get a key that goes into various boxes spread around the zoo which tell you verbally about the animals. The giraffe enclosure had one of those boxes. Did you know that, despite their extraordinarily long necks, giraffes have the same number of neck bones as humans do? The only difference is that each bone is much larger, and a lot stronger, as are their powerful neck muscles.

We headed toward the big cats, but along the way, we passed the gazelle enclosure. Unfortunately there were not any gazelles to be photographed out in the open, so we continued on our way. We did pass by a sign though, with a picture of a Speke’s gazelle, which I’d never heard of before. I am familiar with Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelles, but never heard of any others. Speaking of gazelles, and giraffes that I mentioned before, did you know that both are a type of antelope? Gazelles make much easier prey for big cats than do giraffes though.

Portland Zoo Stone Baobab Tree TrunkPortland Zoo Lion EnclosurePortland Zoo Two Male Cheetahs
On the way toward the big cats, my favorite of all African wildlife, we passed by an enormous stone Baobab tree, pronounced ‘bay-o-bab’,a tree that is native to Africa, but in this case was just a statue. The trunk was enormous though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they built this tree to scale, meaning that the real trees have just as wide a girth as the one in this photograph. Just out of curiosity, I actually walked a circle around this tree and it took me about twenty-four steps to encircle it completely. That’s a huge tree!

Not far from that tree were the big cats. There were several lions out in the open and visible. The keeper who told us about them said that there was a single male, a couple of adult females, a few older cubs, and a few younger cubs. I don’t remember for sure but I want to say the pride size was about seven or eight. I believe she said that the male lion had been chosen as father of the year as well. She told us a cute story though about how the young cubs were bugging the male, wanting to play, and how he fiercely scolded them for it, but a few minutes later was cuddling with them. I thought that was very cute.

Around the corner from that was an enclosure with two male cheetahs, both of which were very close to the viewing window. I absolutely love the beautiful spotted coat, worn both by cheetahs and leopards. They are in my opinion some of the most beautiful cats on the planet. It was pretty awesome to have these two cheetahs so close not only to the viewing window but also to each other so that I could capture them both in a photo.

Portland Zoo Three Elephants
The last animal that I was able to photograph were the elephants. We went by them and, near the enclosure, I read a plaque about an elephant that had died long ago, but was remembered as the captive elephant with the most calves of its time, a total of nineteen of them. It was kind of cool reading about that elephant.

There were some other animals I didn’t get to photograph, a hippo that was almost impossible to see, some flamingos, and a few others, and a few petting areas I did not really visit, as well as several animals such as the bears and tigers that I did not visit on that trip but will on a future one. Still, we did get to see a lot of really cool things.

They even had a section for kids that had a giant plastic toybox with shovels, rakes, and other gardening tools, as well as garden gloves, and soft soil in which to dig. I’m certain my son would have loved that if he had been with me.

After I returned from my trip, I showed him the pictures I had taken and asked him to identify the animals in them. He had a hard time with some of them, except the giraffes which he got immediately, as well as the elephants, but he’s only turning four in two days so that is to be expected. I had fun sharing those photos with him, and look forward to bringing him to the Portland Zoo next year.

What’s even better is that on the second Tuesday of every month, they discount admission to only $4, and even better than that is that if you can prove you took public transit to get there, you get an additional $1.50 off. This means that not only do you avoid paying for parking, but you get into the zoo for a whopping $2.50 per person. That is pretty awesome! On top of that, most zoos I have been to aren’t even accessible by public transportation, for example the one in Austin, Texas. This makes the Portland Zoo even more appealing to me since I do not drive.

Portland Zoo Souvenir My Little Man's Stuffed Otter
As we left the zoo, I decided to stop into the gift shop and get a souvenir for my son. We looked around the entire shop and I finally settled on a stuffed otter, an animal that was unlike any other stuffed animal he already had. He really likes his otter and it was a well spent $20.

Have you been to the Portland Zoo? What about zoos in other cities? What was your favorite zoo experience ever? Share your zoo stories in the comments.

To connect with me on social networks, follow me on Twitter @craftyfrugalmom, like my Facebook fanpage, friend me on Facebook, or follow me on StumbleUpon.

Review of Olde Westport Spice Company Spices

Olde Westport Garlic and Mesquite Spices
I recently received a package of various products from Olde Westport Spice Company for review. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.

I posted a while ago about receiving some spices to test and review, so now here I am. Olde Westport Spice Company sent me some mesquite seasoning, some garlic, a chicken enchilada soup mix, and a couple of different chili mixes to try.

My absolute favorite was the mesquite, so that’s the one I will focus on. The garlic was flavorful and tasty, as were the others, but the mesquite really stood out to me.

I’m a single mom and a full-time online college student, so I have little to no time to actually cook. However, I used some noodles and veggies along with some chicken to make some quick and easy meals that I could prepare in a cassarole dish and stretch for a couple of days. In that mixture, I used some of the mesquite seasoning on the chicken, and it gave it a wonderful flavor that I wanted again and again.

With the Olde Westport mesquite seasoning, a little bit really does go a long way. Sprinkle a little of that on some food and let your tastebuds enjoy the outstanding flavor.

The best thing for me is that since I am trying to lose weight, I need a seasoning that will enhance the taste of my food without sending the calorie count through the roof. Since you only need a little bit to go a long way, this company’s products definitely align with that personal goal as well.

I enjoyed my Olde Westport spices, but I will say if I could only purchase one of them, it would most definitely be the mesquite all the way. I’ve still got some of my Olde Westport products left and I look forward to using them in more dishes. I would like to thank Olde Westport for sharing their product with me.

Olde Westport Meal Mixes, Chili, Chili Verde, and Enchilada
The awesome thing about the chili and enchilada mixes I received is that they have recipes on the back to use them in. Of course you can modify the recipes to your own tastebuds, but it’s always nice when a brand provides a recipe idea on the package for you to use. There are tons of great recipe sites out there with thousands of recipes, but sometimes you don’t want to sift through them all to find a good one. I would definitely recommend trying the ones provided on the packages.

Have you ever used the Olde Westport line of spice products? If so, what was your experience? If not, I highly recommend them. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

To connect with me on social networks, follow me on Twitter @craftyfrugalmom, like my Facebook fanpage, friend me on Facebook, or follow me on StumbleUpon.

Guest Post: TOP 5 Simple WAYS TO PROMOTE YOUR KIDS’ Health

This is a guest post by Bernadetta Pracon. I found it to be quite useful and informative and hope you do too.

Red Apple
Your kids’ health is their greatest asset, so how can you help promote lasting positive physical and mental habits? Studies suggest that though parents care about their kids’ overall well-being, they don’t often know the best ways to instill in them the balance and care that is key to a healthy lifestyle. You’ve probably read every parenting book on the market by now. You snatch up every article about kids’ health with hungry enthusiasm, hoping to soak up as many new tidbits as you can.

The good news is: research shows you can relax a bit. A fine balance between being careful and carefree is what you need to succeed as a parent. Don’t take every suggestion to heart: It may not be the right one for you. But just in case you’re interested in what you might be doing right–or what you haven’t thought to do for your kids yet–here are 5 simple tidbits to help promote your kids’ well-being.

1. Set a Good Example

Before you overload your brain with all the latest studies on childhood obesity, poor performance in school or bad behavior, glance in the mirror. The person staring back at you is your child’s most influential role model. Don’t keep kidding yourself that your kids look up to their friends more than you. For typical kids, health is not a concern as much as it is for adults. They naturally emulate the adults around them, and you have been their direct influence for their entire life so far. Dr. Michael Ungar stresses the importance of being accessible to your children as a positive role model in his article in Psychology Today. What’s the use of nagging your kids about the empty calories they chow down if you’re the one buying the chips?

2. A Sit-Down Family Dinner–Without TV

CRT_Television
Shut off the TV, power down the computers and eat. that’s right – all it takes for a family to bond is a tech-free leisurely hour and a table loaded with homecooked food. Instead of eating a prepackaged DIY meal in front of a favorite show, your kids can offload any concerns, frustrations or exhilaration on you. This way, you get to see to it that they eat a nutritious meal and reconnect with them simultaneously. What better way to promote your kids’ health than by spending some quality time together?

3. Walk To The School Bus

School Bus
Cars are the central staple in most suburban families. Look around you. Do you see clusters of kids peddling down your street on their own? No. You’re more likely to see them thumbing away at a portable video game in the back of their moms’ SUV’s. American kids’ health is bulldozed by soccer moms who insist on carting their Precious Little Ones everywhere. You can supervise your child and talk to them while you walk. In fact, recent studies suggest that children are safer as pedestrians than they are as car passengers. Besides promoting your child’s physical health, you can get in shape as well, and kids need fresh air for better concentration.

4. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Eating disorders like Anorexia are on the rise among children in America. The same is true about obesity. Surprisingly, experts suggest that some of this is due to parents’ overemphasis on healthy eating. Ironically, the parents who obsess about health seem to instill a sense of self-consciousness in their children, according to Dr. Michael Ungar. A balance of awareness and flexibility is the key to confidence. Allow your child the occasional packet of chips, but make sure they understand it’s a treat.

5. Respect Your Kids

Parents demand respect from their children, but do they reciprocate? Often, parents play the role of authoritarian which doesn’t seem to promote mutual respect. But how can healthy conduct be promoted among kids when they lack respect as individuals? Give your children the same respect you expect from them, but establish that you, as a parent, will guide and advise them. Learn how to be courteous together.

Following these five tips may not magically alter your kids’ health, but it will gradually shift them (and yourself) toward a healthier lifestyle.

What other things have you tried to improve the health of your children? What areas could you work on? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Crafty Frugal Mom is Back!

For anyone who’s tried to visit my site the past few days and been unable to do so, I do apologize. Crafty Frugal Mom has just undergone a migration from one host to another, which necessitated doing it in a bit of an unusual way that I won’t really get into the technical details of, due to the previous host practically falling off the face of the Earth. However, I am back so watch out for more posts upcoming from me.

There are still some cosmetic changes and tweaks I need to do to the site over the next little while, but also watch for some great new things to commemorate my first blogiversary. That’s right. Crafty Frugal Mom is almost exactly one year old! Also don’t forget that in my store, you can still get 10% off through the end of April with the coupon code “Blogiversary.”

Watch out for a few cool new changes, fairly minor but something to spruce up the site, as well as my Facebook fanpage. I’m planning a few cool things for the next few months, as well as spreading my wings on a few new social networks, so watch for those as well. You can of course join me on the ones currently listed at the bottom of every post, and when I have the new networks set up and with a little content, I’ll start adding them to the list as well.

I look forward to reading your thoughts and interacting with you, and to making Crafty Frugal Mom’s second year even more amazing than the first.

To connect with me on social networks, follow me on Twitter @craftyfrugalmom, like my Facebook fanpage, friend me on Facebook, or follow me on StumbleUpon.

Slimquick Pure Extra Strength Gummies Review

SlimQuick Pure Extra Strength Gummies Bottle, Weight Loss Supplement
A while back ago, I posted about testing out a free product I was going to review, a weight loss supplement called SlimQuick Pure Extra Strength which came in gummy form. It stated that it could increase weight loss by approximately three times, and one of its primary active ingredients is green tea, which I have heard in several places has health benefits.

Since I am actively trying to lose weight, get in shape, and maintain proper portion control, this sounded like a really great product for me to try. Unfortunately, it was ineffective for me. This doesn’t necessarily mean it will be ineffective for everyone though, as everyone’s bodies are different.

That said, the bottle recommends combining the supplement with an approximate 1350 calorie diet. I followed this standard, with a small amount of flexibility, less than 200 calories, as I was also actively working out and burning calories, whether it was walking, using a weighted hula hoop, or doing sit-ups and lifting hand weights.

My weight, both before the supplement, while taking it, and afterward has remained relatively the same, only fluctuating slightly. I have not lost any weight. This said, I have lost a nominal amount off various parts of my body, as measured with fabric measuring tape. Some of my inability to lose weight could also be from putting on some muscle, as muscle weighs more than fat. Nonetheless, if this supplement is to live up to its boasts, I should have lost something.

I have read around online about people having more significant results by doubling or even tripling the recommended dosage. However, this could be dangerous, costly, and generally impractical. I would definitely not recommend using this technique to test the effectiveness of increased dosage.

While this supplement did not work for me, I was more than happy to give it a try. I did like that it came in gummy form. There was a bit of a strange, somewhat bitter aftertaste, most likely from the green tea. However, if this supplement had worked for me, I would have tolerated it as I would not be able to drink green tea itself straight. I find it disgusting and the minor aftertaste is acceptable.

In addition, these SlimQuick gummies are pretty sweet, with a light amount of sugar on the outside as well. They don’t taste bad, as a lot of health supplements notoriously do.

Due to its ineffectiveness for me personally, I don’t think I will continue using this supplement. However, if you think it might work for you, and especially if you have difficulty swallowing pills, this might be something to look into.

I would say the only real thing that I dislike about this product is the marketing on the label, the claims about helping to lose three times the weight and all. I of course knew that results would vary from person to person, and clearly there will just be some people that have no benefit, but this is bordering on false advertising because someone more naive than I could easily mistake this claim as being a guarantee. It definitely is not, but the ability to aid in losing three times the weight is their biggest selling point, and I do believe the claims are exxagerated.

However, if you go into it with eyes wide open, not expecting miracles, you may find that it works for you more than it did for me. Just don’t be fooled by the claims on the label and don’t judge yourself against the supposed people this was tested on. Look at it on an individual basis and judge for yourself if it is effective or not. Nothing else beyond its effectiveness for you personally is important.

Have you ever tried SlimQuick Pure Extra Strength gummies? What about other weight loss supplements? Have any of them worked for you? Do you think portion control and exercise is the best way? Share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to read them.

To connect with me on social networks, follow me on Twitter @craftyfrugalmom, like my Facebook fanpage, friend me on Facebook, or follow me on StumbleUpon.

Quick Update: Upcoming Hosting Change

Hello everyone. I apologize for not writing anything in the last few days. I assure you I am stil around and have been doing some things behind the scenes. As you may have noticed I just got a brand new theme and am using a bigger font. I hope that you like it. I have a few posts planned, but I will probably hold off on publishing them until after my change of hosting providers.

At the moment I am working out the specifics of migrating the site and keeping it entirely intact. You may notice the sight down for a few hours during the change. It should be in the next week but I am uncertain of when as I am still waiting for a response back from my current host.

That said, once the hosting change has been made, you can look forward to more great posts from both me and my guest posters, and I’m going to try and find some giveaways to share with you all, especially in honor of my first anniversary of this blog.

Also, do not forget about the 10% off discount code to my handmade crafts store, Blogiversary. I will be adding a few new products to the store over the next few days, so watch out for those. I do have a guest post waiting to be published, and I’ll probably put it up tomorrow for all of you to read and enjoy.

I just wanted to let you know I am still around and planning some cool posts. Let me know what you think of my new theme!

Guest Post: What to wear during pregnancy

This is a guest post by Melissa Stevens. I hope that you find it useful.

When you get pregnant, you are one of the happiest women in the world. As the pregnancy progresses, the questions what to wear often pop up in your head as everything becomes small. Even though it is common to think that you have to buy new clothes all over again, this does not have to be the case. We present you the clothes you can wear both before and during the pregnancy, some affordable clothes you can buy and even some DIY projects.

Unbuttoned blazers and unstructured cardigans

Do not get rid of your favourite blazers and cardigans during your pregnancy. Who says you have to button them up? A comfortable maxi dress and your favourite blazer is the perfect combination. The same thing applies to cardigans. However, there are a variety of types of cardigans. The first option is to wear an unbuttoned cardigan. The second option is to wear an unstructured cardigan and add a belt for a chic look.

Leggings and stretchy pencil skirts

You do not have to buy maternity leggings, just buy ones in larger size. Leggings come in a variety of patterns. So, this is another way to look trendy. What is the most important, they are super comfortable. A stretchy pencil skirt is an affordable piece of clothing and you can wear it before and after the pregnancy.

Dresses

Empire waist dresses are perfect for moms-to be because they are not very tight and there is always a room for your baby bump. So, do not get rid of your empire dress. If you have a shift dress, lucky you! They are also one of those loose dresses you can wear during pregnancy. Wrap dresses are also perfect because you can adjust the size. Another recommendation is a DIY project. If you have time and energy you can try making this easy multi -wrap dress you can wear long after your bungle of joy has arrived (and they are breastfeeding friendly too)

Belt That Bump
Image source US magazine

A tunic out of the fabric

Another DIY project with no sewing involved. You will love it! Fabrics are cheap, why do not you make use of it? Buy the fabric you love, or use some shirt or dress you don’t wear any more, cut it on right places and add a belt. As simple as that!

Look chic in men’s shirt

As your pregnancy progresses, you need clothes in larger size. As we have told you, you do not need to spend extra money. Use your hubby’s shirt, cut out the sleeves, add a chic and trendy belt. You do not even have to cut out the sleeves, just roll them up. That’s it! You have a maternity tunic.

Maternity jeans

Maternity jeans are indispensable. They are made for pregnant women and they are made to be comfortable to wear. These jeans are usually made with an elasticated waist band. The beauty of maternity jeans is that they can be combined with any wardrobe item. There are so many types of maternity jeans on the market nowadays: from skinny jeans to boyfriend jeans down to “overbump” and “underbump” jeans.

Empire blouses

Try your empire blouse once more before you ditch it in your wardrobe to wear it after the pregnancy. As empire dresses, empire blouses are not very tight, which means you can wear it even during the second trimester. Empire blouses and unstructured cardigans we mentioned at the beginning are the perfect combination.

As you can see, there are so many ways to look stylish during the pregnancy. You do not have to look boring as “nothing fits you”. There are so many pieces of clothes thet can actually fit you both before and during the pregnancy. Call your girlfriends for a DIY project and have fun! You can make some trendy tunics. Be unique and stylish and embrace this period of your life.

What types of maternity or non-maternity clothes have you worn during a pregnancy? Were you able to wear them before and after as well? Share your tips with everyone and help out those looking for a bit of fashion tips for pregnancy.

Guest Post: Smart Strategies to Splitting up Household Tasks

This is a guest post by Edna Thomson. The opinions herein may or may not be shared by Crafty Frugal Mom. We hope that you find the tips included useful.

Chore wars occur in every 9 out of 10 households. There is always someone doing more tasks than others. Someone who never does the housekeeping. And someone always complaining about the chores. But as overwhelming and time-consuming as they are, they are also necessary. So instead of fighting over who does the dishes tonight, why not split the tasks so that everyone gets a fair share? Here is what you can do.

Split By Days

Organizing your housekeeping by days is fair. It will depend on the number of family members who are able to take part. If you have very small children, they will be opted out.
Here are several examples:

    2006_Calendar

  • You can do the household responsibilities on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, whereas your spouse can take Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Sundays can be a day off for both of you. Of course, you can’t avoid eating just because no one is available to wash the dishes. If you have a pile of glasses and plates in the sink, just split the task.
  • One of you can keep house from Monday to Wednesday and the other one from Thursday to Saturday. Sundays are entirely up to you again.
  • If you have kids, let them get their fair share. They can do some of the chores some days of the week.

Split By Task
Laundry_Basket
Are you better at vacuuming? Does your spouse feel more comfortable ironing and folding the laundry? Then go for it! Let each one of you do those chores you are good at or you enjoy doing (as impossible as that sounds).
Here is where your children can join you as well. Have them clean and tidy their own rooms. This will minimize clutter. Once you let kids manage some of the chores, you’ll notice how faster you deal with the rest.
Here are several examples you can go for. Who can do what:

  • Ironing: most of the time women are much better at ironing than men, so this could be an entirely lady chore
  • Dishwashing: 8+ year old children, your spouse, you
  • Running the washing machine: you, your spouse, children over 12 years old
  • Dusting: everyone
  • Tidying up: everyone
  • What could go wrong: if one of your family members got sick, you would have to do their tasks for them because you couldn’t let the dirty laundry pile up for days.
    Split By Week
    Another strategy is to split the work by weeks. This means that whoever takes a week will have to do all the chores until the days are over. The next week it will be someone else’s turn. And so on and so forth. There are several downsides of this strategy. One of you may get tired to do everything for a week. Or one of you may get sick and then somebody else will have to replace him/her. Also, keep in mind that sometimes we all need a break. Be understanding and supportive, don’t quarrel.
    Split By Time
    Here is the final strategy you can try. Split the chores by time. Estimate the time it takes to carry out a specific chore and split the tasks accordingly so that everyone spends the same amount of time housekeeping. It may be a little difficult to do this but if you really are frantic about fairness, this is the right solution. You might want to rotate the chores as some of them are tough and others are lighter. You don’t want to end up with someone mopping the floor once or twice a week and others spending forever sweating over the bathroom cleaning routine.
    Be wise and productive. Don’t let your home become a sty. Good luck with splitting the household responsibilities!

    This article is kindly contributed by GardenersMates W14

Respect Those Around You, Especially Children

Have you ever noticed how in many ways, a lot of people in this twisted world have no regard for the fact that there are children around them? This isn’t just limited to strangers either. Sometimes even parents disregard the fact that their children are near, and do all sorts of inappropriate things without thinking.

This post, however, was inspired by two groups of people in particular. While I understand that not everyone in these groups fits the description here, enough of them do for it to be a real problem, especially for parents who care very much about keeping their children healthy and happy.

NoSmokingSign
I’ll start with smokers. Too many times I will be somewhere with my son and the smokers are just puffing away right in front of everyone. They don’t have any respect for anyone other than themselves. I don’t mean the ones that are good enough to step away and stand downwind of non-smokers, so as to avoid blowing smoke in their faces. These people I do not have a problem with. However, it is a fact that second hand smoke can be just as lethal, if not more so, as direct smoke. This is made even worse for children, whose respiratory systems are not fully developed, and to make matters worse, the damage is cumulative.

As someone who has been far too exposed to cigarette smoke, even as a child being stuck in a truck with a relative who was a chain smoker and didn’t roll the windows down, I cannot stand the scent of cigarettes, and have probably had more than my fair share of smoke inhalation. Fortunately for my son, none of his immediate family smokes. However, we are exposed to smokers fairly regularly.

Oklahoma_City_bus
I do not drive, and we often use public transportation. Frequently at the bus stop, there will be at least one person, if not more, who is smoking. Some people think that the fact they are doing it outdoors and that the smoke dissipates quickly makes it better, but that just isn’t true. These smokers don’t make any effort to distance themselves from non-smokers, to take children into consideration, or to move downwind to avoid blowing smoke in the faces of other people.

We all know that cigarette smoke is poison, and can cause all sorts of health problems, and one might say the non-smoker should be the one to move, but in my opinion, the non-smoker is not the one who chooses to poison their own bodies. In addition, my feeling toward smokers is simply this. I don’t care what you choose to put into your own body, provided it has no effect on me. Once it starts affecting me, such as this type of situation, that is where I have a serious issue and will express it.

If you are a smoker, please be courteous enough to move at least twenty feet from non-smokers unless they say it is okay and to move downwind to avoid it kicking back into their faces. Smokers were just one of the groups that I have encountered issues with, however.

The second group is people who swear, but not just those who swear. There are many people out there who swear every other word out of their mouth, or at least seemingly so. It’s not uncommon to hear ‘I went to the fucking store to buy some shit for dinner and some bitch in the parking lot fucking cut me off. Then her asshole boyfriend started talking shit to me like it was my fucking fault.’ This kind of language is far more common than it should be, and parents who try to discourage their children from swearing have an uphill battle with people like this around.

I don’t have a problem with the odd swear here and there, but absolutely not around children. When my son is older, he will know there is a time and a place, but for now, swearing is entirely forbidden. At his age, he is incredibly impressionable, and I’ve heard countless stories of children who are sworn around and they start becoming little potty mouths. In addition, this excessive level of swearing, such as that described in the above example, in my opinion is entirely unnecessary and doesn’t make a person look very bright.

Astronaut
In fact, I have used that to discourage my son from copying it. He wants to be an astronaut when he grows up, and I told him astronauts have to be very very smart, which includes lots of school, so he’s on the right track with preschool, which he loves. When he hears people talk like that, I quietly step aside with him and let him know that language like that is unacceptable and doesn’t make a person look too bright, especially when it’s that often. I remind him that he has to stay smart to be an astronaut and to avoid that and so far it seems to be working.

After seeing how frequent excessive swearing is, I’m trying to eliminate it from my vocabulary, whether he is around or not. I’ve always actively avoided swearing around my son, but even my own mother does it far too much, and I feel it is important to set a good example for him, so I am trying to strictly limit myself to when it is absolutely necessary.

People in general need to have more respect for others around them, but children most of all. This post is not intended to offend anyone, just to point out an observation I have made, especially as a parent. If you’re not in the groups mentioned, you shouldn’t be offended. If you are, then please consider being a little more conscientious of those around you, and adapt your behaviors accordingly.

If everyone in the world had a bit more respect for people around them, this world would be a much better place. What kinds of disrespectful behavior most annoy you? What kinds of things do you think you could do to improve your own self awareness of these types of things? Feel free to share in the comments.

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All images courtesy of Wikimedia.org.

Guest Post: Upcycled Crafts: Super Mario Edition

This is a guest post by Jessy Troy. I hope that you enjoy it and get some good creative ideas from it.

There are two things I love more than anything: upcycling and old video games. I grew up in the days of the classic Nintendo consoles, both the NES and the Super NES. I still remember long days spent with my siblings and friends, playing games until my parents literally kicked us outside to play in the sunshine. When I wasn’t playing games, I was doing crafts of some sort.

So, when you take these two loves of mine and put them together, you have an epic combination. Somehow, I doubt I am the only one who gets excited at the thought of Super Mario upcycling projects. So here are ten examples of things people have done in the niche.

1. 8-Bit Dictionary Art Print

8-Bit Dictionary Art Print

This one is pretty random, but I really like it. They have taken an old dictionary page, colored in an 8-bit representation of Mario back in his Super Mario Bros days, and framed the whole thing. It would be really easy to emulate this one for yourself. A dictionary from a charity shop costs about a dollar, or you might have something around your house to use. Technically, you could do it with anything that has no graphics to interfere with the picture.

2. Garden Mushrooms

Garden Mushrooms

These are super cute, made from corks that have been painted and mounted on sticks. They were then stuck into a plant, but you could conceivably do it out of anything that makes the shape. I have some foam balls laying around that I think might make some decent mushroom shapes with added to the rounded part of a cone. They could also be put anywhere for decoration, even if you don’t have a plant or garden to stick them into.

3. Fabric Bookmark

Fabric Bookmark

Once bedsheets, they have been made into a fabric bookmark thanks to a bit of sewing. I don’t see the point of spending $5 a piece on them, but if you already have some fabric around it would be simple to make your own.

4. T-shirt Backpacks

T-shirt Backpacks

These were old t-shirts that had run their course. They were turned into tiny little backpacks, though I see them more like tote bags than traditional backpacks. What I love about these is how retro they look, especially the second one.

5. Mario and Yoshi Halter Top

Mario and Yoshi Halter Top

I can forgive the fact that the person who made this shirt called it “Mario and Dragon” rather than using Yoshi’s name. I have to admit that I am a little shocked they didn’t know it, as that would normally be considered common knowledge. But moving past that, the shirt itself is really cute and looks like it was made from a regular t-shirt, or maybe a hoodie.

6. Soda Can Mario

Soda Can Mario

Now this is impressive, and wouldn’t be a simple project for most of us. It is a Mario figurine created out of recycled soda cans of various types. They were molded into a really well made figure.

7. File Cabinets

File Cabinets

I hate the look of metal filing cabinets. They look so impersonal, and I have a couple in my house that I cringe whenever I see. But they are necessary for many people, so how do you get past the fact that they are an eye sore? This is definitely one possibility. While I don’t think I would do a Mario design for my office, this does show that you can at least paint them to look different.

8. Nintendo Briefcase

Nintendo BriefcaseNintendo Coffee Table

Nintendo Coffee TableDuct Tape Shoes

Duct Tape Shoes

This is a really cool idea. Using some leftover Mario duct tape and some old shoes, they created a whole new fashion. It was super easy, and the outcome was unique. Plus, they would be easy to repair!

Do you know of any Mario related upcycling projects? Let us know in the comments.

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By Jessy Troy

Jessy Troy is a green blogger behind DIY gadgets, her little collection of favorite upcycling and crafts ideas