SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











I woke several mornings this week to frost on the pimp-mobile.  Ironic feature to the 2013 Altima: the dashboard warns me that the outside temp is dangerously low.  Really?  Had to share that one with Jeepnmom.

Nesting mode has kicked in.  The holidays are coming, I’m totally homesick, and my crafty side is kicking in.  I called my mom, because I remember my grandma Bet’s tree being covered in homemade salt-dough ornaments.  Of course she doesn’t have the recipe and told me to call Aunt Sus.  Whose phone was busy.  So I called Gram.  Who doesn’t have the recipe and told me to call Sus.  Whose phone was no longer busy and whose voicemail picked up.

Mind you, there are recipes all over the internet and and Pinterest. Unfortunately, none of them are the one from Aunt Sus.

Eventually, my Facebook messenger alert went off on my phone and there was the recipe from Aunt Sus! Apparently, it came from a magazine years ago, and the yellowish color isn’t from old age but mustard powder. Go figure!

Grizzly and St. Yoda had a hunting date the Saturday during Thanksgiving, and I knew Real Chick would be yanking her hair out, so I invited her to bring the girls for an artsy morning. Then, because we’d tried unsuccessfully forever for a crafting date, I also reached out to Gifted Teacher, who had never heard of salt dough ornaments.

A trip to the grocery for flour and salt, and I was ready to create! Before the rest of the crew arrived, I had filled a huge bowl with dough.

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I think the grown up ladies had as much fun as the little monkeys. Our only problems were how long to bake them at what temperature, and I totally overdid the dough! There is still a big bag in my fridge and Christmas has already passed.
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I didn’t get picture of them after painting and Real Chick’s oldest made a tree I truly love, but I think you get the idea. This was such inexpensive, fun, monkey entertainment that I see us trying again on a rainy day.

Here is the recipe:
Cookie Clay Recipe- Sus
4 Cups flour
1 Cup salt
2 teaspoons mustard powder (there’s your yellow!)
1 1/4 Cups water

insert your wire hangers into the ornaments before baking.

bake at 300 for 2 – 3 hours, or until a toothpick can’t go into them any more. start at 2 hours, and if they are still softish, go for 3.

Thicker ones will take longer.

After cooling, use acrylic paint to add color if you want. Let air dry about 24 hours and spray with clear coat.

The ornaments on my tree, Sus made when I was a baby. These can last for a looooong time!

I’ve contemplated different cookie cutters for different seasonal ornaments, as well as magnets.

What do you think? Have you tried salt dough?

~ Katie

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{December 27, 2013}   The Gift of Friendship

My true friends don’t know all of my story. OK, not true, jeepnmom knows every secret I’ve ever had, probably, but we’ve known each other since 3rd grade, and she’s 16 hours away, so that is different. I’m talking about my true friends that I see regularly and haven’t known for 30+ years. They don’t know it all, but they know enough that matters.

These are the friends that drive from the snobby side of the tracks because Monkey #1 drank my last coke.

The friend who sent a note of encouragement from Cuba, not knowing that the day I received it was the day I needed it most. (It sits on my dresser, today.)

The friend who comes all the way from Nigeria to bring me a caramel macchiato, even after things have been odd.

The friends that bring dinner so I don’t have to cook while Grizzly is getting his insides taken out.

The friends that bring kolaches or coffee in the morning because I look like I need it.

The friends that present me with Browning jammies (in pink and brown! woo hoo!) in the middle of Superior during Friday night drinks.

My friends are amazing, brilliant, wonderful women. And it’s crazy to think about how we’ve become so close. Growing up together, a curse word in a parking lot, a move from the t-buildings to the English hall, being systematically shunned by the rest of our entire social circle….

Do these fabulous women know everything about me? No. But the little things make such a big difference.

I feel like I do so little in return. They have my loyalty and support. I’m always here to listen, occasionally to advise. I’m good for a hot meal or a shoulder to cry on. When everyone else has jumped ship, I’m still there. I hope they all know how important they are to me.

So of all the gifts I received this Christmas, the one I’ll treasure most is the gift of friendship, the bonds that keep us together through all of the crazy, and the little things that go along with it.



English: pool party decoration

English: pool party decoration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It’s not as overwhelming if I refrain from numbering the sections.

 

This is the section with all of the information I need for being a hostess. It will include storage locations for specific decor, menus with the necessary recipes or location of said recipes, theme ideas, shopping lists, etc.

 

Apart from Bunco and the occasional birthday party, I don’t host much of anything anymore that requires much of any kind of thought. But I have always loved to entertain and would like to get back to that.

 

Entertaining

 

  • ideas for theme parties/get-together:  I have lot of magazine clippings for this.  In Family Fun Magazine a few years ago, I found an awesome “Pool Party” birthday theme that would work for any summertime kids’ party.  It has ideas for decorations, food, and the coolest cake.
  • guest list with contact info and notes: I will do this because Grizz & I don’t always communicate when we’re inviting folks over to cook out and I never need to invite Real Chick over when Peter Pan is going to be here.
  • recipes/menus, sorted by event:  while Magical Mystery Beans are an ideal side dish when we’re grilling steaks with our friends, they’re not ideal for an Italian-themed meal with business associates.

 

Holidays

 

  • decor: where to find whatever is needed for whatever holiday, along with a list of items to purchase.
  • gifts:  ideas for the different people I have to purchase gifts, along with clothing sizes (particularly for the monkeys)
  • schedule:  where we are expected to be and when.  There is often a lot of confusion with this, although my grandmother always hosts Christmas Eve mid-to-late afternoon and my in-laws have Christmas Day, but it will be easier if we see it on paper.  The monkeys have a variety of church commitments during the various holidays, so I have to consider that when scheduling things.
  • menus/recipes:  if we’re hosting a holiday at the House of Cheaptitude, I want to handle it.  I want to make the casseroles, the desserts, and so on.  It bugs me to be expected to do the potluck stuff that happens most holidays.  I like to host and part of that includes feeding my guests.  If you don’t like my cooking, there’s a Taco Bell up the street, Jack!

 

Events

 

  • Baptism/First Communion/Churchy Stuff:  I need a list of things I need and things I need to do.  I like to have a small party at my house for these milestones, including favorite meals for whoever it is and maybe a cake from my girl, Cake Lady.
  • Birthdays:  ideas for cakes, decor, themes, gifts, etc.
  • Graduations
  • Baby/Bridal Showers
  • Barbecue
  • Bunco
  • Poker Night

 

I wasn’t joking when I said this is the section to make any kind of entertaining at the house come off without a hitch.  Mine is full of magazine clippings!  I’m sure there are other lists to include in this section.

 

Do you do a lot of “formal” entertaining?  Are you a list maker when you host an event?

 

~ Katie

 

 

 

 

 



{November 29, 2012}   Creative Christmas

The down turn in the economy over the past several years has really affected my house.  I make more money as a teacher than I ever have in my life before, but haven’t had a raise in a few years and prices on everything have increased exponentially (my friend Perks would LOVE my incorporation of Math vocab!)  My husband owns his own business and it is construction-related, so you probably know what that means.  I’ve heard the economy is rebounding, but my bank account disagrees.

We have what we need, and I thank God every day for that.  We even have some of what we want.  However, without one creative mama managing the house, we would be lacking in several areas, I’m afraid.  DH, whether he realizes it or not, is brilliant in many ways but planning ahead financially is not one of them.  I freely admit I’m far from perfect.  But I’m ok with squeezing a nickel.

There have been times in the past where I’ve had Christmas gifts for everyone, wrapped, stashed, paid for byChristmas in the post-War United States August.   That was a while ago.  Now I count myself ahead if I’m finished the week before.  We’ve cut back on the number of people for whom we buy over the years, but we still have a bunch of folks getting gifts from our house.  I don’t mind because I enjoy giving gifts.  I put a lot of thought into the gifts we give.  This year I’ll have to be really creative.

Limited Numbers, Limited Stress

Pile of gorgeous gifts

If you follow my blog, you know I’m addicted to Pinterest. I have found some amazing money-saving ideas, as well as Christmas and general gift ideas on there.  I found one thing I’m definitely implementing this year.  I feel like my monkeys can be spoiled and expect a lot, so I’ve forewarned them.  This year, from Mama and Daddy, they’ll each get something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.  Surprisingly, Monkey 2 is really excited about the idea – I think Christmas sends her into sensory overload!  This way she has to put a lot of thought into her requests.  Monkey 1 was cool with it, too.  He says, “That’s okay, Mom.  Santa Claus brings us all of the good stuff.”

Ummmm…..

The Cheap Seats

I remember a time in the not-too-distant past that there was not a Target Store in my area.  We had to drive to Longview, TX, to get our Target fix.  Heck, I was in college when te first Super Wal-Mart came to our town.

I don’t shop these stores much.  My friend from college, Heather, told me years ago there is something fundamentally jacked up about being able to buy your food and your crap all at the same place.  And I’ve learned over the years that she’s right.  It’s too easy to throw in a couple of DVDs with your fish sticks and toilet paper, and your carefully planned list and budget might as well be toilet paper.

But I love love love the cheap bins at the front of the store.  The dollar bins at Target and Michael’s?  Heaven for someone in search of cheaptitude.  For example, DH’s aunt writes a bazillion letters each week.  I could go to a fancy specialty store and buy her a few pieces of fancy paper.  Or I can hit those magical cheap bins and get several packages of stationery, buy something both pretty and functional, and well within my limited budget.

I check out the cheap seats any time I’m in any store.  You never know what you’ll find.  I haven’t had to purchase valentines for school for 4 years now – and I have exactly enough to get Monkey 2 into Middle School.  And I spent less than fifty cents to do it!

“Making” Do

I’ve always enjoyed crafty projects.  One of my favorites was a framed scrapbook page I made of the monkeys. DH’s mom loved it, so guess what every grandparent received that year for Christmas?

When I cleaned out my closet for repurposing, I found several half-finished projects.  So I have 3 picture frames and a photo album ready to be wrapped. Each one is decorated differently, and each with a specific person in mind.  I’ve also been working on hairbows, using the stockpile of ribbon I’ve accumulated from various dollar bins.

Although some of my friends are very Southern Living in their tree decorating, all matchy-match, I’ve always loved handmade ornaments.  Very few items that are on my tree are store-bought, unless they came from Bronner’s, which is acceptable in my mind.  I’m planning for the monkeys to make salt dough ornaments this year that we can gift as gifts.  I also have a lot of scrap fabric I can make some things.

There are some people in my gift-giving circle that do not appreciate a hand-made gift – and that’s ok.  I put thought, time, and work into everything I make, and if someone won’t appreciate it, I’d prefer not to waste my time.

Black Friday All Year Long

I will not get up at the butt-crack of dawn the day after the day we give thanks.  I’m usually tired, either from cleaning and cooking and entertaining or from going and spending quality time with family elsewhere.  Holidays are exhausting.  And honestly, the deals aren’t that overwhelming.

English: This is a row of Cash Registers at a ...

There are websites you can check that tell you when the best time is to buy EVERYTHING.  For example, I can find amazing deals on computers in June.  Why?  Darned if I know, it just happens that way.  And I think January is the month to buy linens.  Which reminds me, my towels have seen much better days…..I’ve found that I can shop smart throughout the year and find great deals without fighting crowds and standing in ridiculous lines.

Do I shop all year-long? Well, not really.  If I see something cool on sale that will be a great gift for X, of course I get it then.  But one of my Christmas budget tricks is to buy gift cards while I’m shopping for other things.

Not to give as gifts!

Year before last, I thought it would be great to get Monkey 1 a Nook so I could stop driving across town so much to buy books.  Coming up with the idea well before Christmas, I started stocking up on gift cards.  I think I paid less than $40 cash at Christmas for his $100 gadget.  Gift cards are my way of doing a Christmas Club account.

And Christmas Club is a great way to put money away for holiday shopping, but I know me.  If money transfers into my checking account, I’m paying bills.  The interest rate at my credit union is pathetic, so gift cards are the way to go.

The Hostess with the Mostest

I’ve not done it this year, but boy do I love a home party.  I’ve been an independent consultant with several different companies over the years (and still am a home party consultant!) and have learned lots of tricks  in addition to earning a little extra holiday cash.  I’ve figured out which parties have high attendance because the people love the products.  I’ve also figured out which party plans have the best hostess benefits.

Pampered Chef goodies

Pampered Chef goodies (Photo credit: Carissa Marie)

I usually host a Pampered Chef party in May, while the “Help Whip Cancer” promotion is going on.  As a former Independent Pampered Chef Consultant, I have the kitchen goo gahs and gadgets I need (except the complete set of

executive cookware) and can use my hostess credits, discount, and half price items to get goodies for Christmas.  For example, DH’s smoky barbecue rub….

Starting around August or September, I like to host a party every 3-4 weeks.  There are a few reasons for this.  First of all, it forces me to clean my house. Second, I get to see friends and family I might not often otherwise. And finally, I can get Christmas gifts on the cheap or even free – and they’re high quality, nice things people love.

Hosting a bunch of parties is tricky.  You have to rotate your guest list.  But if you put some thought into it, it works.  For instance, I may not invite my Bunco Babe who has to dust her stove top once a month to a Pampered Chef Party.  But a purse party?  She’s on that list!  My stepmother who makes jewelry might not be too interested in a jewelry party, but she loves organizers so I’d invite her to a Longaberger party.  Just like gift-giving, party hosting takes a little extra thought and planning, but can totally work in your favor.

Like I said, I am still an active consultant with a company, and I’ll order some Christmas gifts from my favorite salesperson, too.  Then, in January, I’ll have a tidy little commission in my account to buy gift cards or invest in more toilet paper. (If you want to know which company, drop me a line and I can let you know!)

Christmas gifts.

Again, my methods might not work for everyone or for every situation.  I’ll be trying some new things this season and will probably implement some things that worked before.

Do you have any tried and true Creative Christmas Tips?

~ Katie

*Update*

Now the big day has passed and I can post project pics!

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Ladybug frame for MaMaw….

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Marine photo album for PawPaw. Notice the mod podge is still wet!

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Snowy frame for Granny at the Farm…



et cetera
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