Category Archives: Children hacks

Easy Vegetarian Chili (no soy, no tomatoes)!

So my 7 year old decided a few months ago that she was going to be a vegetarian.  Have you ever driven up the 5 freeway (through central California).  Yeah.  If you have, you know what I’m talking about.  Thousands of poor cows just jammed into stalls and standing in what appears to be their own excrement.  And, of course, we eat that.  Lovely.  So yes, my little 7 year old absorbed that and decided – no more!

So I try to be accommodating.  It’s actually amazing how many kid foods are already vegetarian.  You’ve got Mac N’ Cheese, spaghetti, quesadillas, bean & cheese burritos, just to name a few.

I used to cook a lot with the Deceptively Delicious book.  It’s a great book.  You puree veggies in advance and then hide them in your food.  This works really good for us adults who really don’t like many veggies.  So I started doing this again because if I’m limiting her plate to vegetarian food, I want to make sure she is getting veggies with protein in it, even if she doesn’t tend to like those ones.

Now here’s the hard part.  If you don’t start your kids off as vegetarians, they’ve already got that, “Ew, what is that?” attitude toward a lot of them.  So most cook books really suck.  My kids won’t eat some veggies.  They don’t like “spicy” food, which is what a lot of vegetarian cookbooks do to cover their more flavorless recipes and by-the-way, I’m allergic to soy.  So no tofu as a filler over here. Ok, so now that we have all the challenges listed, I decided to go ahead and try to make chili.  This recipe is a combination from the Deceptively Delicious recipe and one from a vegaterian cookbook.  I think it turned out amazing and with a bit of playing around, it can be even better.  But, here it is in its infancy stage.  I honestly can’t wait to make it again.


Olive oil

1 can red kidney beans

1 can white kidney beans

1 bell pepper, chopped finely (I used yellow)

1/4 white onion, chopped finely

1 butternut squash (or bag of prepared butternut squash)

1/4 cup cornmeal or flour

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

1 carton (26 ounce) of vegetable broth

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

3 medium carrots or carrot puree


  1. Roast the butternut squash, or if purchase prepared, place in a skillet with a teaspoon over medium-high heat, cook squash until golden (about 10 minutes) along with the carrots.
  2. About 5 minutes into cooking the squash and carrots, add the bell pepper and another teaspoon of olive oil.
  3. About 8 minutes into cooking the squash and carrots, add the onion.  Set all 3 ingredients aside.
  4. In another skillet, pour the broth, add the seasonings, flaxseed, carrot puree (if that is the option you chose), and cornmeal.  Heat over medium-high heat until boiling.  Then reduce heat and simmer, covered 15-20 minutes.
  5. Add in beans and veggies from step 1 until heated through (just a few minutes).

Prep time is about 5 minutes.  Cooking time is about 35.  Serves about 6.

These figures are based on taking the easy way out of everything.  My carrots were pre-pureed, as recommended in the Deceptively Delicious book and my butternut squash was just the pre-packaged kind.  I’m sure this would have tasted even better if I’d rosted my own, but still, I was so happy with this one.  It was a little soupy, but considering my entire family hates tomatoes, I was not going to add tomato paste, like so many recipes call for.  A little soupy = more dipping bread!  So no complaints over here.

If you try this and tweak it, please share.  I’d love to hear the variations.  And, of course, you can always add ground meat as well.



8 places to get free books

Last week I wrote an article entitled 4 realistic ways to find time to read.

8 places to get free books

Today I’ll be talking about where to get free books.  I love books and many books I would like to own so I can reread them.  But that gets expensive and where would I put them all?  So I’ve become pretty resourceful with ways to get free books.  There are many resources out there.  A few ways to get discounted books include thrift stores, garage sales, Kindle, Amazon and bargain stores, to name a few.  But for some key places to get free books, read on.


This is the obvious one, right?  For physical books I go to the library.  But this is not my favorite option.  Something always happens to the books.  My dog eats them (literally, no joke).  My kid tears them (why????).  I can’t find one to return it on time (seriously why haven’t they revoked my card?).  I can’t tell you (or rather don’t want to know) how much I’ve paid in late fees in the last few years.  So I do try to avoid this option.  But loans are for 3 weeks so if you think you can return the books on-time and in the same shape they left the library, go for it.

Overdrive App

Overdrive is actually the public library app.  You enter your library card number and it let you check out 25 books for 21 days.  They automatically return the books for you too.  So no late fees. EVER.  I love this.  Free, plus no late fees, what could be better?

iBooks App

Obviously this option will not be available to everyone.  You have to have an Apple product.  But there are lots of free books in this app. They have all genres too.  I’ve downloaded fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, classics.

Books App

This is an app that has books from before 1935.  So classics primarily.  They are all free.

Kindle App

Again, this is an already popular one that I’m sure many of you know about.  There are tons of free books on this app too.

Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime members also get some free books or borrows, electronically.

Sweet Free Books

At you can tell them what type of books you like and they will notify you of deals.  Just pick your genres and they will let you know.  For example: In the last 5 hours, they notified me of 5 – $0.99 books and 3 free ones in my favorite genres.  I follow them on Twitter so I get notifications easily that way.

Book Bub

At you can also get free or cheap books to purchase.  I also follow them on Twitter so that I have an easy time seeing their deals.

I’m sure there are many other ways to get books, but that should get you started.  If you have places you love to get free books, let me know.  I’d love to add them to my list!


Life hack: How to make everyone happy for Easter – happy wallet, happy child, happy Earth

One of the issues I have with holidays is not just the impact on my wallet, but the waste they create.  At Easter, one of the worst things you can buy is that fake grass.  It gets everywhere, you just throw it away after the one use and it goes right into the landfill.  So today’s post will help you avoid the “need” to buy that, as well as a few other items.

Save money, save Earth and make the kids happy!

Easter Baskets

Easter Baskets are a waste of money.  They usually get damaged and thrown out.  Years ago I purchased plastic bins that we still use.  Buy a sturdy, reusable container.  A bucket, pail, whatever.  Something that can be reused.  This will save you money by avoiding repurchasing wicker baskets every year and is better for Earth.

Plastic Grass

So everyone seems to think they need this stuff to have a proper Easter basket.  But what you really need is some type of filler.  I buy my girls a new outfit instead.  That fills up the bottom of the bin I use and creates a colorful background for what is on top of the outfit.  This also helps the budget as I’m buying them something they need.  You could also opt for new sheets or whatever else can fill the bottom of a bin with some fluff.

Easter baskets that save the earth


Most Easter candy is unnecessary.  Do they really need that much?  I’ve opted for one signature item, like a chocolate bunny.  Keep it simple.

Plastic Eggs

If you fill these and hide them, fill them with coins.  Kids love money and it’s useful for them.  Unlike more candy or more tiny toys.  Again, this helps with the wallet and landfill space.  Kids really just love the thrill of finding the eggs and second to that, finding a surprise inside.  Beyond that, it doesn’t matter what is inside.


So far I’ve given my kids an outfit and a bunny.  So where are the gifts?  I do buy them usually a small toy and/or something else they may need, like summer shoes (flip flops, Crocs) or books.  Basically, my bunny is practical.  He always has been, so my kids are trained.  But even if your kids are used to more, you can downgrade.  Step by step.  And gifts of things they “need” and what they want often overlap.  If they love Frozen, buy them Frozen flip flops.  It fits both categories.

This year, I’m buying my girls a hollow, chocolate bunny, one clothing item they each requested, one necessity (undergarments for one and an alarm clock for the other) and a book they each wanted (and yes, my 7-year-old wanted a book with vegetarian recipes – there will be a whole other post on that development).

Easter baskets that save the earth and save money. Budget friendly Easter baskets

By avoiding all the disposable parts of Easter and by limiting the gifting, you can keep the cost of Easter to a minimum while still making your kid happy.  And you can do all this while being more conscientious of our planet.





4 realistic ways to find time to read

Over the last year or more, I have been listening to podcasts that have filled my mind with so many ideas, so many possibilities.  But what I have found, is that without my fiction books, I can’t relax.  The nonfiction books get me so would up, so excited.  I need something else to calm me and help me rest at night.

I used to be a one-book-at-a-time person.  Then, for a while, I felt I had no time to read.  With work, kids, dog, exercising, there just didn’t seem to be any time.  But I’ll share with you how I manage to have time for multiple books at one time.  Currently, I tend to have a nonfiction audio book to motivate me to try new things and improve my life.  I also have a fiction book that I read at night or when I’m trying to unwind.  I sometimes have an audio fiction book as well.  These work especially well on family road trips and for family members who get car sick and can’t read while the car is moving.


The following 4 suggestions give you the tips you need to squeeze in that extra reading time.

  1. Try to go to bed at least 15 minutes earlier than normal.  I read for the last hour of my night (or less if I fall asleep reading!).  This helps me unwind and helps me fall to sleep easier (bonus!).
  2. Listen to audio books or podcasts while commuting, doing chores or exercising.  I do not recommend nonfiction for exercising.  I find that there are often things I want to write down and it distracts me from my exercise (but apparently not from my driving?  Hmmmm……
  3. Once you get used to listening to audiobooks or podcasts, try listening to them at a faster speed.  This gets through some of the dry material at a better pace.  Increased speed is usually a pace where you kinda have to listen closely so, at least for me, I’m more likely to pay attention.  It also gets you through more books.
  4. I read on my phone.  This has increased my read time dramatically in many ways.  First, I can read when I’m waiting in line, or when I’m walking or at the doctor’s office.  I don’t have to remember to bring my book with me.  Also, I can read any type of book, anywhere.  People don’t need to know I’m broke or reading a romance novel or getting a divorce or having major health issues.  I don’t have to wait until I’m at home, hiding those books, to read them!  Second, I can read as I’m falling asleep, in bed, at night.  I know this is not recommended.  Bad on eyes, supposedly viewing electronics at night keeps you awake.  But after years of trying to find good ways to read in bed (head lamps, lighted bookmarks, etc.), I can tell you, this is the answer to my prayers.

Still think you have no time?  I find the hardest part, is starting.  Just start a book.  If it’s a topic you like or need, you will suddenly find the time to read it.  Despite being used to my system, I find that I still sometimes struggle to start the next book.  But once I start, I’m off and running.  Sometimes I’ll download a few books just to keep things moving.  It really is easier the more you do it.  You find you don’t want to watch TV or waste so much time on Facebook when you have a good book to read.


Next week I will be discussing places to get free books to enable this reading habit!

So my challenge to you is to see how many books you can read next month.  All you have to do is just get started!

How to Become Educated – Fast

NYC.pngHave you ever noticed that when you are in school, you have so many things to talk about?  You are exposed to so many different things, things you don’t necessarily care about.  But through that exposure, you can comment upon almost any conversation; you have something to add.

When you’re not in school, you slowly start losing your information.  Lots of it just seeps out of the brain, especially once you have kids.  Those endless, sleepless nights take their toll on your once-brilliant brain.  You go from being someone who will make their children geniuses, to someone who can’t even tell their children who is running the major countries of the world.  It’s just sad.

A year or more ago, I started taking my kids to the library every few weeks.  Regularly.  On occasion, I’d even leave them at home and go alone.  But regularly, I would pick out books on people and events.  This are small books, with lots of pictures and they are quick reads.  Suddenly, I’m educated again.  Through very quick and easy reading, I can add odd facts to any conversation.  In the last month alone I’ve read books about:

Harriet Tubman

Prudence Truth

Lady of Guadalupe

Frieda Kahlo

Helen Keller

And a few other topics too!

Because these books are in the children’s section, they are short and to the point.  I don’t have to be an expert on these people, but it’s nice to refresh my memory on who they were and what they did.  Who wants to talk about which movie star is in rehab again?  And if you’re single and dating, even better.  Aim to find someone who can appreciate conversation about topics outside the Hollywood world.  Or if you are going out with an artist, read a bunch of these books on various artists.  Show your date that you know at least a bit about the art world.  The possibilities for these short, but helpful, books are endless!

There are so many topics covered in children’s books that it doesn’t have to be just people.  There are entire civilizations or current events.  There are major fictional characters that are practically a part of our history anyway, like King Arthur.  There are also animal books.  There are so many fun facts about animals.

The key with these books is that they are short enough that you can read several in an hour.  You can read about topics beyond the normal Benjamin Franklin history set.  And because the books are to the point, you’ll probably remember them for longer than if you were bogged down in the details of their world.

There is a huge series of “Who was” books.  They are written by many authors.  These are very informative.  For example: Yona Zeldis McDonough has written “Who was Rosa Parks”, “Who was Luis Armstrong” and many others.


National Geographic also puts out a great series of books on people and topics such as Helen Keller or pandas.  Again, quick information.


And don’t forget the picture books.


If you have other ways that you get a quick educational fix, let me know!  I love learning new things and with my short amount of free time, I need more ways to get it all in!

Book review: The Uglies, Divergent and Hunger Games

“End of the world” themed books have long been popular. Alternative futures (or not so alternative) as present in 1984 and Brave New World have enthralled generations of readers. More recently it seems that it has become popular to write about an unknowing teenage female heroine living in a future far different than our current world. Although there are many other series out there involving heroes in similar situations, this article focuses on three of the most popular, current series about young, female heroine. If you haven’t read these books yet, hopefully this review can help guide you as to where to start.

The Hunger Games

This trilogy follows a 16 year old girl on her fight to survive.  She lives in a world that has been divided into 12 sections.  Every year, 2 minors from each section (ages 11-17) fight in an enclosed enviornment in which only one can survive. This is a world controlled through fear.

Katniss is creative and is good at figuring out how to survive.  She seems to stumble across her solutions half the time, but is quick to pick up the clues.  She is an unwilling hero to the people of the various sections.  While fighting for survival, she shows that there are alternatives, even when none are obvious and that staying true to yourself and your friends will help you win the day.

What I did not like about these books is that the last one seemed to change some of the characters and their “natural” actions, to meet an end result the author wanted.  Katniss’ relationship with her best friend becomes strained and their interaction seems made to fit a result rather than its natural course.

Overall, a very creative story but considering I found book three to not completely remain true to the characters, this is not my favorite series.


This trilogy follows a 16 year old girl, Tris, on her discovery that her world is not quite what it seems.  The world has been divided into 4 groups.  At age 16 you must endure a test that tells you where you will fit best as an adult.  You can then select to join that group and leave your childhood completely behind (since the groups don’t really mix much) or you can choose to stay with your family.

The point of these 4 groups is to make the world run more peacefully and to maximize citizen talents.  The main character struggles to survive in her world and then proceeds to be a leader in tearing down the rules that have been established.  She faces issues of betrayal and death.  She also faces what the “outside” world looks like and has to make life altering decisions with respect to that world.

Overall, this is my favorite of the 3 millenial-armagedeon type book series. The storyline and characters seemed the most consistent.

The Uglies

This series consists of books titled The Uglies, The Pretties, The Specials and The Extras.

This series is about a 16 year old girl that lives in a world where children undergo dramatic surgery to make them all “pretty” and “happy”, at age 16.  Through a series of mishaps, the main character, Tally, ends up running away from the surgery and into the wild.  What she learns there changes her perspective.  She must overcome many obstacles to keep true to herself.  She is constantly fighting loyalties within herself.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book.  I found myself less interested in the story as the books went on as it seemed more of the same issues. Yet, the story was still overall interesting.  The writing was fun as there are many made up slang terms such as “dizzy-making”.

10 Children’s Fiction Books, Based in Reality

So it turns out my 9 year old is not into fantasy.  She’s tired of reading about fairies, dragons, magic and time travel.

10 Children’s Fiction Books, Based in Reality

It took me awhile to figure out what she did like.  I was shocked to discover she prefers books based in reality!  So then I had to go and find those books.  They definitely aren’t as well publicized as the books on vampires and so forth.  So here’s the list of books she’s now reading through at 10x the speed she was reading through those fantasy books.  They are really interesting, very emotional, and mostly, award winning.  She’s reading them so fast that I don’t get to read them with her so I’m reading some of them on my own, when I can.  The ones I’ve read so far are also enjoyable as an adult.


Caitlin has Asperger’s. The world according to her is black and white; anything in between is confusing. Before, when things got confusing, Caitlin went to her older brother, Devon, for help. But Devon was killed in a school shooting, and Caitlin’s dad is so distraught that he is just not helpful. Caitlin wants everything to go back to the way things were, but she doesn’t know how to do that. Then she comes across the word closure–and she realizes this is what she needs. And in her search for it, Caitlin discovers that the world may not be so black and white after all.

Turtle in Paradise

In Jennifer L. Holm’s New York Times bestselling, Newbery Honor winning middle grade historical fiction novel, life isn’t like the movies. But then again, 11-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple. She’s smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it’s 1935 and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle’s mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn’t like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida to live with relatives she’s never met. Florida’s like nothing Turtle’s ever seen before though. It’s hot and strange, full of rag tag boy cousins, family secrets, scams, and even buried pirate treasure! Before she knows what’s happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she’s spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways. Filled with adventure, humor and heart, Turtle in Paradise is an instant classic both boys and girls with love.

Includes an Author’s Note with photographs and further background on the Great Depression, as well as additional resources and websites.

Moon over Manifest

Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”
Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.


August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

Out of my Mind

Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She is smarter than most of the adults who try to diagnose her and smarter than her classmates in her integrated classroom—the very same classmates who dismiss her as mentally challenged, because she cannot tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy. And she’s determined to let everyone know it…somehow.


When Donovan Curtis pulls a major prank at his middle school, he thinks he’s finally gone too far. But thanks to a mix-up by one of the administrators, instead of getting in trouble, Donovan is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction, a special program for gifted and talented students.

Although it wasn’t exactly what Donovan had intended, the ASD couldn’t be a more perfectly unexpected hideout for someone like him. But as the students and teachers of ASD grow to realize that Donovan may not be good at math or science (or just about anything), he shows that his gifts may be exactly what the ASD students never knew they needed.

Freak the Mighty

Two boys – a slow learner stuck in the body of a teenage giant and a tiny Einstein in leg braces – forge a unique friendship when they pair up to create one formidable human force.

Bridge to Terabithia

Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.

Witch of Blackbird Pond

Sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler is marked by suspicion and disapproval from the moment she arrives on the unfamiliar shores of colonial Connecticut in 1687. Alone and desperate, she has been forced to leave her beloved home on the island of Barbados and join a family she has never met. Torn between her quest for belonging and her desire to be true to herself, Kit struggles to survive in a hostile place. Just when it seems she must give up, she finds a kindred spirit. But Kit’s friendship with Hannah Tupper, believed by the colonists to be a witch, proves more taboo than she could have imagined and ultimately forces Kit to choose between her heart and her duty.


Palmer LaRue is running out of birthdays. For as long as he can remember, he’s dreaded the day he turns ten — the day he’ll take his place beside all the other ten-year-old boys in town, the day he’ll be a wringer. But Palmer doesn’t want to be a wringer. It’s one of the first things he learned about himself and it’s one of the biggest things he has to hide. In Palmer’s town being a wringer is an honor, a tradition passed down from father to son. Palmer can’t stop himself from being a wringer just like he can’t stop himself from growing one year older, just like he can’t stand up to a whole town — right? Newbery Medal winner Jerry Spinelli’s most powerful novel yet is a gripping tale of how one boy learns how not to be afraid.


Quick tip: The secret Disney website


Looking for cool recipes?  Maybe you’re hosting a Disney party, a tea or just want to try something cute?  Or maybe you want craft ideas.  There is a whole section of the Disney website that is almost hidden.  You need to visit

You can then go into crafts, activities, recipes or parties.  Personally, I love the recipes best.  But I’ve posted a few samples of each so you can see what’s there.  There really aren’t any archive folders, unfortunately.  You just have to scroll back through time or do a search by the character or show you want.  But there are so many neat ideas in there.  And many are very easy!

So I made this cake for my kids a few years ago.

Disney birthday cake. Mickey mouse birthday cake.











It’s super easy and can be found at:


I also made this for my daughter’s class, for her birthday.

Eyeballs. Alternative birthday treats.








This grossed the kids out but they loved it.  And they were individual size so no need to cut things up or make a mess.  Recipe here:


Talk about super easy.  This is a great idea for a simple tea party.

Tea party. Tea cakes.











Tiny Teacakes


This recipe is adorable and super easy as well.  Kids love this stuff.

Cool cupcakes. Octopus.

Ursula’s Octopus Cupcakes










Turning more toward the crafts section of the site…

Incredibles masks.

The Incredibles No-Sew Masks

Or maybe pencil decorations is more to your liking.

Pencil decorations. Disney. Winnie the Pooh.











5 Ways to Dress Up No. 2 Pencils

There are many crafts for all age groups.

Nightmare before Christmas. Paper dolls. Disney.











Nightmare Before Christmas Playset


I highly recommend you take some time and play with the site.  Most people seem to use it for the parks and don’t even realize the other awesome stuff on there.  My kids love the different deserts and dinners I’ve made over the years with the help of that site.  When you find a favorite, share it!  I’d love to see it.  Enjoy!

Life hacks: 5 ways to reduce your landfill impact: Party time


Our society is so wasteful.  And our parties are at the height of this.  We buy disposable products for every aspect of the event.  Decorations.  Plates.  Cups.  Gift bags.  Pinatas.  Invitations.

There are many ways to reduce the impact a party normally places upon our landfill space.



For my daughter’s Frozen themed birthday party a few years ago, I used a Frozen shower screen as a backdrop, instead of purchasing a bunch of disposable decorations.  The screen could be reused and it created a great backdrop for pictures.

Flowers or using outside space can be a great way to decorate naturally.  A friend of mine used potted succulents as her wedding centerpieces to avoid the waste involved in killing so many flowers.  They were beautiful.

I also use the food as my decorations.  The cake, a watermelon in the shape of a ladybug, cake pops or sugar sticks or any other candy (which could also double as a part of the ultimate gift bag gift).  They can all make a setting really cute and fun.  Without a lot of waste product.

There are many natural ways to decorate, without creating so much waste.


OK so you don’t want to give that up?  How about making your own?  At least you would be using recycled materials, for the most part.  And a homemade one probably will not have quite so many ribbons and so forth that further pollute our world.

Here’s a short Youtube video on how to make one.

Reusable Serving Ware

If you are having a party at home, is it at all possible to use your plates?  Sometimes this simply isn’t possible.  But the more items you can use from your home, the better.  Even if it’s just the serving spoons, every little bit helps.  I’ve noticed that depending on the party, I can sometimes use a lot of my personal supplies.  If that’s not possible, perhaps purchasing cups as part of the party gift is one way to cut down on landfill space.

Party Activities & Gifts

girl-358294.jpgIn the past I’ve been able to find activities for the kids which also double for their party gift.  I try to give them something that can be used for a while, rather than stickers or things that will be thrown out soon.  For example, I supplied paints for a jar and soil and succulents for the jar, once dry.  So they had an in-party activity and a party gift to go.  Something that was easy to care for and may last for a while.  A mason jar could serve a similar purpose.  Drink holder and perhaps could be decorated as well.

Invitations & Thank You’s

This is essentially addressed in one of my prior blogs, which can be viewed at:

If you have additional ways to reduce our impact on our landfills, please let me know!  I’d love to hear them.

Life hack: How to create great no-sew costumes

11834928_10153521069298695_3904977407002683560_oI’ve been sewing for a few years now.  And I have to admit that my costume making has really taken off since that time.  But, once you know how to do a skill, you also learn how you can get around it.  I used to spend so much time avoiding sewing patterns that I missed a lot of good ones that could have been adjusted to fit my ignorance.  So below I’ll link to a few costume ideas I’ve tried from other people and share a few ideas of my own.

But first, the best tools that you need:

Bobby pins

Fabric glue

Lydia Deetz

So last year I was Lydia Deetz.  For this costume I used my own black leggings, sweater/wrap and shoes, borrowed a hat and camera, I purchased a black wig, a lace top and The Handbook for the Recently Deceased.  I also put white clown makeup on to whiten my face a bit and put on dark eye makeup.  Total cost was around $40 and it was comfortable and easy.


Likewise you can make many period pieces very easily.  For guys: you can find a button down paisley shirt at your local thrift store.  Get the widest cut jeans you can and if you cannot find bell bottoms cut the jeans along the hem up to almost the knee.  Insert material of any color to make bell bottoms.  You can use any bobby pins or fabric glue for this.  Leave your shirt half-way open and fill the space with gold chains.  If you don’t have long hair, get a wig.  Easy ’70’s costume.  For girls: the ’80’s are always easy.  Get an oversized shirt, billow it out over a thick, but loose hanging belt.  Wear leggings and sandals or jellys, if you can find them.  Rat your hair out at the sides and up at the front.  Curl it so it looks almost permed, if you can.


For this outfit, I got a piece of elastic and I did hand stitched it to my size.  If you really don’t want to do that, bobby pin it.  I then bought many feather boas and started cutting them to the length I wanted.  They were then bobby pinned to the elastic band.  I bought the top and bobby pinned the “wings” on to the straps in the back.  I secured the arm pieces with rubber bands around my arm and middle fingers.  Again, a comfortable outfit and easy to make.  This idea could be adjusted for many animals.


Many costumes require a cape.  I got the pattern off here:

I copied it exactly for the picture on the right.  On the left, instead of tying it around the neck like a real super hero, I adjusted it to be sewn on to the back of the dress, just like the “real” Elsa’s.  You could glue or pin it there as well.  You could also make these out of cotton.  Jersey would be a good material.  It has that curling effect.  If in doubt, just ask the “cutter” at your local fabric store.  They can help you.  But this pattern is super easy to follow and can easily be adjusted to different sizes.

The key is to start early.  The sooner you start looking at a costume idea, the easier it will be to put it together.  You will have more time to find ideas and ways to make your costume without sewing.  Start now!!!!!  And if you’ve made a no-sew costume, I want to see it!