Painting Just For The Sake of Painting

Painting Just For The Sake Of Painting

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Please tell me that I’m not the only mom who struggles to do organized crafts with her kids.  We do a lot of drawing, coloring, singing, dancing, and reading in this house, but step-by-step crafts just aren’t happening.

I like to think of myself as an artistic woman.  I studied theater and video production in college.  I loved taking art and photography classes.  You would think that I would plan elaborate crafts for my kids all year long, but instead I cringe when doing finger paint and have very few crafts saved on my Pinterest boards.

tempera paint setDespite my lame attempts at crafts in this house, we bought Grace this 12 pack of tempera paints and assorted brushes set for Christmas.

The other day I decided to break out the paints and let Grace and Noah paint just for the sake of painting.  I remembered this post from Meg Duerksen and gathered some egg cartons for the kids to paint.

There was no plan.

No cutesy craft.

We just painted for the sake of painting.

painting egg cartons just for the sake of painting

6 Reasons Why I Fell In Love With Painting Egg Cartons

1) I finally have a good use for all the empty cardboard egg cartons I’ve been saving!  Recycling something from around the house and turning it into art?  That is definitely a good thing.

2) Ditching flat paper just feels good.  Am I the only one that sometimes feels pressure when looking at a blank page?  Like I need to come up with a plan?  The random shape of the egg carton eliminated the need for a plan.  I could just enjoy the experience of playing with the different colors.

painting egg cartons

3) It didn’t take any planning or thought.  The extra effort of planning a craft in advance and making sure I have all the necessary supplies is a bit more than my stressed-out-mama-brain can handle at times.

4) It is free.  I didn’t have to pay for special canvases, wooden painting kits, or other art supplies to finish the craft.

painting egg cartons just for the sake of painting

5) It is good for kids developmentally.  My friend Diana was an art major in college and she had this to say about our project:

Creating art is a fun way for children to develop skills for self expression and communication. Fortunately, for those of us that aren’t so creatively inclined, a simple paint brush, paints, and any object that you’d like to use as a canvas is a fantastic way to allow your children to express themselves through the arts.

- Diana, from My Humble Kitchen

If egg carton painting is good enough for an art major than it is certainly good enough for this mom!!

6) There wasn’t a “right way” to do it.  If I’m completely honest, one of the reasons I don’t enjoy crafts as much is because I get a bit frustrated when they don’t turn out right.  I find myself biting my tongue at times, struggling not to correct my little one when she isn’t following directions properly.  Of course there is a time and place for Grace to learn how to follow directions, but… Sometimes mama just needs to chill out a  bit.

painting egg cartons

The Logistics:

Clearly this isn’t a complicated project, but if you want to recreate it I have some tips for you.  First, use cardboard cartons because the paint won’t stick to Styrofoam or plastic ones.  Second, I used a plastic egg carton and cut it down to hold 4 different paint colors for the kids.  It worked much better than letting them have full access to all 12 colors.

In case you just can’t stand not doing a full fledged craft, cut the egg cartons in half, add googley eyes and pipe cleaners, and you have yourself a caterpillar.

Are you a crafty parent?  What kinds of things around the house have you turned into art projects?

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting Simply Rebekah!

Posted in Frugal, Giveaways & Annoucements, Parenthood, Tips | 2 Comments

Freezer Friendly: Pizza Tot Casserole

Freezer Friendly Pizza Tot Casserole

This pizza tot casserole recipe is easy to make, kid friendly, saucy, cheesy, and even freezer friendly.  One thing it’s not?  Pretty.  Yep.  The photos aren’t much to write home about, but it still tastes great.

Pizza Tot Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can of tomato soup
  • Italian Seasoning to taste
  • 1 can of mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 can of black olives (optional)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 package of tatter tots

Directions:

Brown the beef, green pepper, and onion together in  a pan.  Drain the grease if necessary.

Add the soup and Italian seasoning.  Also mix in any other pizza toppings that you enjoy, like mushrooms and black olives.  (My family doesn’t care for mushrooms or black olives, so we leave them out and the recipe still rocks.)

Pour the mixture into a greased pan.  I use a 8×8 pan, but even a 9×13 would work.  The larger the pan, the more tatter tots you will need.

Spread the mozzarella cheese on top of the hamburger mixture and then top with tatter tots.

Bake uncovered at 400 for 30-35 minutes or until the tatter tots are golden brown.

Pizza Tot Casserole: a freezer friendly recipe

To Freeze:

Assemble the casserole as instructed above, but cover the dish and put it in the freezer before baking.  Then when you are ready to make it, thaw it completely  before baking.  Since the ingredients will be cold when you put it in the oven, you may need to bake it for longer than 35 minutes.  If necessary, cover the tatter tots with foil so they don’t get too dark and continue baking until the casserole is hot and bubbly.

This is a great recipe to use when you are batch cooking.  Double or triple the recipe, bake one that night for supper, and freeze the rest for another time.  Batch cooking rocks!

What is your favorite freezer friendly recipe?

Posted in Recipes & Freezer Cooking | 2 Comments

Baby Bumps, Newborns, and Blessing Others

pregnancy photos

When I was pregnant with Noah I read the blog post 100 Ways to Bless a New Mom by Lisa-Jo Baker.  Without shame, I printed the full article and put it on my fridge.

Of course I wanted all who entered my home to read over the list and act out all 100 fabulous ideas (ha! Yeah, right!), but the real reason I printed it was to help me remember how to be a better blessing to new moms.

Two of Lisa-Jo’s ideas stood out to me ahead of the rest:

  • Make sure she’s actually in 1 out of every 1,000 photos she’s taking 
  • Always bring your camera when you visit

I am the photographer in my house.  If I want to have any pictures of myself with the kids in our family photo albums, I have to ask Nate to take a picture.  He always obliges, but he never thinks to do it on his own.  He just isn’t wired that way.

Since reading these ideas of how to bless new moms, I’ve made a point to take more pictures of my expecting friends and their new babies.

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newborn photos

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It is fun to bless others.  It is awesome to feel like you have made someone else’s day better.  Yet sometimes blessing others can feel like it comes with a financial burden. Taking these pictures only cost me a little time and some storage space on my iPhone.  It was 100% free, but these images captured priceless moments in time.

Thank you Merrilee, Emily, and Kristen for allowing me to take pictures of your beautiful baby bumps and adorable newborns.

How can you bless those around you with your talents?

Posted in Frugal, Pregnancy, Tips | 4 Comments

6 Simple Sanity Savers for When I Feel Like I’m Going to Lose My Mind

6 Simple Sanity Savers for When I Feel Like I'm Going to Lose My Mind

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I’m not handling my stress well.  I can literally feel the tension in my body.  My shoulders are sore and my jaw is tight.  At times I can feel the anxiety squeezing my chest.

Today has been one of those days.

I gathered my jewelry out of Grace’s room and sternly told both kids that playing in my jewelry box was a big no-no.  Noah dumped his breakfast out of the bowl and all over his tray.  He does this at every. single. meal.  Toys were fought over.  I found a piece of chewed up bacon in the play kitchen.  Noah was wrestled to the ground so I could put his clothes on him.

And all of that was before we went to the grocery store.  Then…

Crying.  Climbing out of the cart.  Sitting on the bananas.  Mom, I’m hot!  Mom, I want to go home! Mommmmy!  Trips back and forth from the car to the house carrying the groceries.  Noah fell.  Noah escaped and ran out front by the busy road.  Noah fell again.  Grace whined.  I yelled.

Finally I shoved the kids into the house and told them to stay there while I got the last of the groceries.  When I came in they were in the fridge, stuffing pepperoni into their mouths, and spilling it all over the fridge.

a desperate text message

I locked myself in the bathroom, cried, and sent Nate those last two text messages.  I was desperate.  I am desperate.  Nothing terrible happened today, yet it was one of my worst days.  It is amazing how that happens sometimes.

Everything feels hard these days.  Making breakfast.  Getting the kids dressed.  Laundry. Cleaning the house.  Making supper.  Getting out the door.  There is a melt down and catastrophe around every corner.  The simplest tasks seem difficult these days.  There are some parts of early motherhood that I will not miss.

blocks in the toaster

So how do I cope?  First of all, I’m forever thankful that I have God and Nate on my side.  Obviously, they are my biggest life lines.

Secondly, I really do enjoy my children.  Grace and Noah, when you read this someday you might not get it.  You might think I was miserable.  I’m not really.  Parenthood is just hard.  It is hard, but worth it.  You are worth it.  I love you when you’re good and I love you when you’re naughty.  I love you always.

Lastly, I have some simple pleasures that get me through the day.  You might call them guilty pleasures, but I don’t feel guilty.  So just for fun, I want to celebrate my simple sanity savers with you today.

i heart oreos

6 Simple Sanity Savers

1) Oreos - I admire those who eat a “real food” diet.  I have been cutting back on processed food in my house, but Oreos will always be welcome in my pantry.  Always!

2) Reality TV - My favorite show of all time is Big Brother.  It is a ridiculous show of drama, competitions, voting, and back stabbing.   I can’t get enough.  A close second is The Bachelor.  I am loving this season with Juan Pablo.  I’m hoping Andi is around for the long haul.  The Bachelor is on tonight and I can hardly wait.  (Feel free to chat me with on Facebook or Twitter about these mindless TV shows.  I always have lots to say!)

3) YouTube - I don’t know how this happened, but I’ve been sucked into the world of YouTube.  I subscribe to several channels.  Some of them might seem normal, like Mama Natural and Convos With My 2 Year Old.  Others fill my need for superficial pop culture.  Then there is a collection that I’m too embarrassed to admit that I watch.  I’m pretty sure they are most popular among 16 year olds and I am not their target audience.  Let’s just say, if you know about shipping, collab videos, and the boyfriend tag, then you might be on my same wave length.

4) Voxer - This is a smartphone walkie-talkie app.  I love it.  I chat with my friend across the world.  I chat with blogging friends across the country.  I chat with other stay-at-home moms across town.  I don’t feel so alone when I can pop on voxer from time to time and connect with a fellow mom.

5) Podcasts - Are you listening to podcasts yet?  You should be.  They rock.  I listen to them to pass the time while I’m cooking supper, driving, or cleaning.  They are a nice substitute for stimulating adult conversation while I’m in this stage of life.  Here are 4 of my favorite podcasts.  Since writing that post, I’ve also started listening to How They Blog, Smart Passive Income, and The Longest Shortest Time.  Look them up!  I’m even tempted to start my own podcast some day.

6) Coffee - I’ve always enjoyed coffee, but I never drank it on a daily basis until after Noah was born.  That warm mug of sweet, creamy, heaven every morning is good for the soul.  In the summer I enjoyed these.  Feel free to send them to me by the case full along with the Oreos.  *wink-wink*

taking a mental break

Nate honored my request and came home for lunch today.  He was amazing.  I collapsed in the living room and he cleaned up the kitchen and dining room, ran the dishwasher, and tucked Grace in her nap.  He was such a blessing.

So now that my house is clean, my children have rested, and I had some alone time, I feel so much better.  The 6 things I listed above do make me smile and relax throughout the day, but on a more serious note, I need to remember that these things are truly what helps:

  • prayer & worship
  • talk to my husband
  • drink a glass of water
  • get more sleep
  • cuddle the kids
  • get some fresh air
  • be thankful for little things
  • remember I’m not the only one that feels this way at times (which is why I’m sharing this post with you!)

Tomorrow is a new day.  It will be filled with new challenges and new joys.  And I thank the Lord for it!

What are your sanity savers?  How do you get through days when you feel like you are losing your mind?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting Simply Rebekah!

Posted in Parenthood | 25 Comments

5 Cheap Meal Ideas for a Tight Grocery Budget

5 Cheap Meal Ideas - Plus 6 Tips for Stretching Your Grocery Budget

This winter has been out of control!  We have had tons of snow here in Pennsylvania.  Plus we can’t forget about the epic “polar vortex” that has been bringing bone chilling temperatures.

All of this cold weather has put a significant dent in our bank account.  Nate and I have been buying oil to heat our home at an alarming rate.  It. is. so. expensive.  We are getting by (and we are so thankful for all that we do have!), but things are tight.  There isn’t much extra laying around these days.

To help our dwindling bank account get through another week until payday, Nate and I came up with a cheap meal plan for the week.  I rarely share my meal plans here, but I figured that we aren’t the only ones who are feeling the weight of heating bills on their shoulders.

5 Cheap Meal Ideas for a Tight Grocery Budget

1) Spaghetti - Spaghetti is cheap and easy.  Duh, right?  This one is a no brainer.  My total cost for the sauce and pasta was $4.24.

2) Sausage, Lentil, & Rice Skillet - This dish is so tasty!  I had a pound of sausage in my freezer from the discount grocery store, so this week I only needed to buy an onion and green pepper.  My total cost was $2.33.

3) Tuna Melt Sandwiches - This is a fun twist on a typical tuna salad sandwich.  Make tuna salad (combine tuna, mayo, and any desired extras like relish or hard boiled eggs).  Then spread the salad on buttered bread with a slice of cheese and toast it in a pan just like when you make a grilled cheese sandwich.  For two large cans of tuna, mayo, and loaf of bread, the total cost was $8.34.  We will probably have plenty left over for lunch the next day.

4) Homemade Pizza - We will be having pizza with heart shaped pepperoni for Valentine’s Day.  I had shredded cheese in my freezer, so I only needed to buy the crust, sauce, and pepperoni.  My total cost was $5.33.

5) Breakfast for Supper - Nate makes really good eggs and potatoes.  We already had a bag of potatoes and some bacon in our freezer.  I only had to buy eggs.  Usually I try to buy cage-free or local eggs, but this time I got 1.5 dozen of regular grocery store eggs for $2.59.

So that is what we are eating this week, but the cheap meal ideas certainly don’t stop there. Want more cheap meal inspiration?

6 Tips for Stretching Your Grocery Budget

1) Eat from the Pantry and Freezer - Many of the meals listed above are cheaper because I already had some of the ingredients at home.  When you make your meal plan for the week, look for inspiration in your pantry and freezer.

2) Don’t Make Meat the Main Thing - This week I avoided dishes that focused on meat.  It helped my budget not to have to buy beef or chicken.

3) Eat Leftovers -  We have a 4 year old girl and boy who will be 2 in a couple months.  Our family doesn’t eat a whole lot at this point.  We always have extra food at the end of the meal.  If possible, I serve it for supper the next night.  If there isn’t enough for supper, then it gets put on the lunch menu.

4) Rice, Beans, & Lentils are Your Friends - The cheapest meals I make are from rice, beans, and lentils.  They are filling, high in protein, and tasty.  (see above for recipe links)

5) It Doesn’t Have to Be Organic - I love buying organic food.  I don’t love the extra cost that comes along with it sometimes.  I use Veggie Wash on all of my produce and it helps me feel better when I can’t buy afford to buy organic.

6) Use the More With Less Cookbook - There are so many reasons why I love this cookbook.  It features recipes from around the world, focuses on using less of the world’s precious resources, and many (if not all!) of the recipes are inexpensive to make.  If you buy the More With Less cookbook, email me and I will send you page numbers of my favorite recipes!

What are your favorite cheap meals?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting Simply Rebekah and my crazy high heating bill!

Posted in Frugal, Recipes & Freezer Cooking | 7 Comments