Easy DIY Nap Mat Tutorial

Check Out This Easy DIY Nap Mat Tutorial!

This is the best easy diy nap mat tutorial! If I can do it, anybody can! Make these adorable nap mats for your kids. FYI, I originally made these nap mats back in 2010 and they are still going strong in 2018! My kids obviously don’t use their DIY nap mats as much nowadays, but we do find uses for them.

(Originally posted in August 2010!)

My children attend a Mother’s Day Out program (that I also work at!) two days a week during the school year. Since Noah is almost 3 1/2, he has been sleeping on a nap mat at school since last year*.

Lizzie on the other hand is only 18 months, so imagine my surprise when they said she would be sleeping on a nap mat as well! While I wish her teachers all the luck in the world with that (seriously, I do. I taught this age group last year and was lucky enough to have them in cribs), I figured I might do something to help them out.

I had been wanting to make Noah a new nap mat since his wasn’t very padded and I wanted him to be more comfy. So I just made two! I mean if you are already making one…

Related: Did You Know I Taught Myself How To Sew? 

I loosely based the design on the tutorial here. My kids are super attached to their blankies, so I didn’t attach a minky blanket.

I also decided I didn’t like the order of the steps from pretty early on, which lead to me changing something else and something else….
That’s pretty much how I roll though when it comes to tutorials.

So this is the result!


These 2 nap mats cost me what one would have cost if I had paid someone to do it for me. The embroidery on these alone would have probably added another $8 to each mat.

Sometimes it’s worth the time and the effort to do it yourself. Not only does it save you money…look at how HAPPY those kids are! And over something I made them. Priceless!

Be sure to check out this awesome nap mat tutorial!

Update 2018 – My kids still have these nap mats. They are now 9 and 11, but we still find a reason to pull them out every once in awhile. They are still holding up just fine!

FYI, I have some other sewing tutorials housed right here on Family Friendly Frugality! Check them out!

How to Make A Peasant Dress

How to Make Basic Wide Leg Pajama/Boutique Pants

How to Sew A Ruffle Dress

How to Applique

*I shouldn’t say Noah “slept” on his nap mat. To my knowledge he did not nap ONCE last year at school. They did say he stayed quiet though….

What To Buy In July – Cheesecake, Laptops, Hot Dogs and More!

Do you know what to buy in July? Do you know what you definitely should NOT buy in July?

One thing I’ve noticed over the past 6 years of deal blogging is that sales are typically cyclical.

This goes for food, clothing, furniture, vehicles and almost everything.

You can see my full list of yearly sales cycles here, but here’s a list of what you should/shouldn’t buy in July.

 

First off, July is National Ice Cream Month! Also National Fried Chicken Day (July 6th), National Cheesecake Day (July 30th).

July 4th Sales

  • Hot Dogs
  • charcoal
  • Hamburgers
  • salad dressing
  • BBQ Sauce
  • potato chips
  • Ketchup
  • dips
  • condiments

Back to School Sales Begin: 

  • crayons
  • binders
  • pencils
  • folders

Seasonal Produce

  • Asian Pears
  • Figs
  • Peaches
  • Bartlett Pears
  • Garlic
  • Peppers
  • Beans
  • Grapes
  • Sweet/Bell
  • Blueberries
  • Nectarines
  • Plums
  • Corn
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Valencia Oranges
  • Summer Squash
  • Eggplant
  • Watermelon
  • Tomatoes

Christmas in July: Think Black Friday (-ish) pricing in July. Sales extend throughout July and many stores drop prices to semi annual lows.

Back to School: Yes, I know school JUST let out, but now is the time to start stocking up for back to school! 
Clearance: Believe it or not, many stores will be starting to clearance their summer inventory to make room for fall. Check out Lowe’s, Home Depot, Amazon and basically any major retailer during the month of July and you’ll find deals for dad.

Air Fair – Sometimes you can find good deals on air fare in July. Seems strange, but flights need to be filled and everyone is traveling! .

Laptops – Some back to school laptop sales start in July much to every teacher’s dismay.

PC Games – Many PC games go on sale during the month of July.

Air Conditioners – “On average, air conditioner deals we saw last July were 16% cheaper than deals we saw in June, and 14% cheaper than deals we saw in August. ” – Deal News

AVOID: HDTV’s

Make Your Own Paint Recipe! Homemade Doodle Paint

Make Your Own Paint Recipe

This DIY make your own paint recipe uses ingredients you likely already have in your pantry right now! This fun paint recipe for kids is super easy to make and there are endless possibilities for your kids to create! Even better, it is technically edible paint, so even your littlest ones can experiment!

My kids love to paint! We go through a lot of paint in this house, so when I saw this super easy make your own paint recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it out right away.

First off though, I had to track down some squeeze bottles. I ended up using the Wilton Cake Decorating squeeze bottles (they are super cheap on Amazon!) that I found at Michael’s. Everything else I had in my kitchen already.

Or so I thought. 

For this recipe you need equal parts salt, water and flour. 

Apparently, a little birdie in this household has misplaced or thrown out my table salt however, so I was forced to make do with Kosher salt.

I’ve never made this particular recipe before, so I’m not sure how it usually turns out if you use table salt, but the measurements used here don’t exactly work with kosher salt!

Because of this, I had to do some trial and error and ending up finding a balance that worked well for me.

So my recipe uses Kosher Salt, but head on over to Delaware County Mom’s for the recipe that uses table salt 🙂

Make Your Own Paint Recipe

Inspired by Delaware County Mom’s

Ingredients:

Directions:

1. Since I didn’t have a funnel, I used the measuring cup that came with my immersion blender to mix the paint in since it has a good spout:

2. Measure out 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup kosher salt, 3/4 cup water and stir together until it’s not lumpy at all. I learned the hard way that if there are any lumps…it will stop up the doodle bottle!

3. Add some food coloring or food gel to turn the paint the color you desire and mix it. I had to use a pretty decent amount of food gel to get the bright and vibrant colors I was going for!

4. Make sure the consistency is paint like. Not too thick, not too thin. Add a bit more water if it’s too thick.

5. Pour it into the clear bottle.

6. Doodle to your hearts content!

Now, kids will enjoy these but I definitely recommend supervising this activity closely, especially if your kiddos are as young as mine. Guide your children to not squeeze too tightly and to spread the paint all over the paper. It does take awhile to dry and the thicker they put it on, the longer it will take.

It’s a really fun activity though and if you can include your children in the making of the paint, it will make the experience that much more special! 

And not that you would want your kids eating it…but it’s made with all edible ingredients so it won’t hurt anyone! (my make your own play dough recipe is also edible!)

You might consider letting your kids use this paint in my “No Mess Allowed Painting” activity as well!

Let me know if you try this out! I’d love to hear your results!

The DIY Solution to Cleaning Your Grill & Making It Look Brand New!

 

Do you own a grill? Have the grates seen better days? Is your grill impossible to clean at this point?

If so, don’t fret!

It takes just a few common household ingredients, a bit of patience and a bit of elbow grease and your grill can look like new!

This process is simple, but you will need a few supplies:

(I recommend doing this process outside as much as possible. These grill grates can get really dirty!)

First off, you want to remove the grates from your grill.

Then you want to get off as much excess dirt as you can easily spray off. You can use a high powered hose for this part. I don’t recommend even attempting to scrub at this point.

Next, fill your large bucket with water and lay your grates in the water. Make sure you have enough water to cover your grates properly.

Now, measure out approximately 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of dish soap and pour it into the water.

I next used the hose to “shoot” some more water in it and stir things up. You might just stir with a long spoon if you aren’t prone to the theatrical (the bubbles the hose created were fun).

Let the grates sit. At LEAST an hour.

Now take your grates out and start scrubbing with your brillo pads! Hopefully the dirt will come off pretty easily, but you will probably have to use some elbow grease!

Now you might be done, or your grates might still look a bit worse for wear. After you get as much of the dirt off as you can,  you might want to do another soak. This time you might do it overnight.

When you are finished cleaning your grates, be sure you rinse and dry them well and put them back on your grill.

Now enjoy your “like new” grill!

If you try this, let me know if it worked by commenting below! 

 

One Skillet Skinless Chicken Thighs With Red Wine Vinegar

One Skillet Skinless Chicken Thighs With Red Wine Vinegar

This tasty skinless chicken thighs recipe is made in just ONE skillet! This one skillet chicken thighs recipe is an inexpensive meal that tastes super expensive. These chicken thighs are absolutely mouthwatering in this red wine sauce. Super simple and uses ingredients you already have on hand for an easy, cheap, frugal flavorful meal that tastes like big bucks! #chickenthighsrecipe #oneskilletmeals #oneskilletchickenthighs #cheapmeals

 

There aren’t many words to describe this dish that really do it justice.

Oh, I was a bit skeptical at first. Some of the ingredients gave me pause.

I don’t cook with vinegar that often, but I always enjoy the taste of the finished product, so I’m not sure why I was nervous.

I didn’t even take as many pics as I typically do because I wasn’t sure it would be blog worthy.

Speaking of vinegar related dishes, I make a killer rissoto with balsamic vinegar that I’ll have to share some time (actually, it’s right here).

For now though, I present you with Skinless Chicken Thighs in Red Wine Vinegar!

Skinless Chicken Thighs in Red Wine Vinegar

adapted from Gina’s Skinny Taste

Ingredients:

  • 8 skinless chicken thighs with skin removed
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup fat free chicken broth
  • 1 tbspn honey
  • 1 tbpsn tomato paste
  • 1 tspn butter
  • 1 onion sliced thinly (she used shallots, I couldn’t find any)
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or you can just use more chicken broth)
  • 2 tbspn Light Sour Cream
  • 2 tbspn Parsley (fresh)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

    1. Pat your chicken dry and season it well with salt and pepper
    2. Meanwhile combine the red wine vinegar, 3/4 cup of the chicken broth, honey and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Bring down to a simmer and reduce down to about 3/4 cup. Remove from heat

    1. Melt the butter in a large skillet and brown the chicken on both sides. About 6-8 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan
    2. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until tender and browned.

  1. Return the chicken to the pan and pour the red wine vinegar sauce over the chicken. Add salt and pepper, remaining broth and wine to the pan and cover. Let simmer 20 minutes
  2. Remove the chicken and add the sour cream in. Stir until thickened and add parsely. Serve over chicken.

I served this with veggies and mashed potatoes. The sauce made an amazing gravy for the mashed potatoes and this was even good as leftovers the next day. This is definitely a keeper recipe in our household and I love that it uses simple, basic ingredients.

You’ll definitely want to bookmark this recipe! Be sure to check out Gina’s original recipe as well. I changed things up a bit, you might find you like hers better!

Nutrition Info: Serving Size 2 thighs per person-240 cals/  7 g fat/ 11g  carbs/ .3 g fiber/ 28 g protein 6 WW Points Plus


10 Ways to Make Living On One Income Easier

 

Nowadays, living on one income is harder than ever. Most families simply don’t think they can make it work. Unfortunately, most are right! However, if you do need to live on one income (or you just want to financially live as if you are living on one income) here are some tips to make it easier!

Bargain Shop:

First and foremost, you will need to learn the art of bargain shopping! This includes knowing how to use coupons and how to follow sales. Here are some helpful articles to get you started:

You might also find it helpful to shop at thrift stores and clearance racks. Set aside a day a week to go peruse the clearance racks and thrift stores. You might ask your local stores when they have their restock days or markdown days. You can start to form a weekly schedule to go check out what is on sale.

You can get some amazing deals if you stay vigilent and stay ahead of the needs for your family (for instance, if you know your son has a program coming up next month that he’ll need a white shirt for…put that on your list now so you don’t have to pay full price at the last minute!).

Make food from scratch:

This is a big one. For the most part (and especially if you are cooking for a family), you will save a ton of money if you make most of your food from scratch. Pre-prepared meals or meals that you eat out will almost ALWAYS cost more than you can get away with spending if you make it from scratch at home. This does mean more work in the kitchen, but the money you save will be well worth it.

Here are some great from scratch recipes that your family might enjoy:

If you DO decide you need a night out every once in awhile, be sure you are following me on Facebook either on my page or in my group. I try to post good restaurant deals there whenever I see them!

Get a side hustle

Just because you are planning to live on one income does NOT mean you can’t earn some extra income from a side hustle! My side hustle is this blog (learn how to make money blogging here!).

Depending on  your skills, some options are:

  • Tutoring
  • Sell on Ebay
  • Freelance writing (check out Fiverr!)
  • Freelance Photography
  • Selling on Amazon
  • Babysitting

There are so many different ways to make money from home. You can do one thing or many things. Chances are, every little bit of extra funds you can bring in will help!

Live minimally

If you have less, you’ll find you need less. This one is a struggle for me in my already very cluttered household! The truth of the matter is, the more you have to store, the more expensive your lifestyle will be. Live with less and you will be able to live ON less.

To begin this new minimalist lifestyle, you should have a yardsale!

Build an emergency fund

I have written extensively about having an emergency fund and on it’s importance. This emergency fund will be used and it will need to be regularly replenished. If possible though, don’t go down to one income until you have this well funded.

If you are already down to one income and do not currently have an emergency fund, read this article for details on how to build yours up quickly.

Use cash instead of credit

This could also be called just living within your means. If you can responsibily use a credit card each month and pay it off (and earn the associated perks), by all means, you can continue to use your credit card.

If you have a habit of letting the month get away from you and just paying minimum payments on  your debt, I would strongly advise paying cash wherever you go. Don’t allow yourself to drown in debt!

Downsize where possible

Move to a smaller home. Purchase a less expensive vehicle. Go to the lowest cable plan. Whatever it takes to trim  your budget to be more manageable on one income…do it! You might be able to live on one income VERY comfortably if you just cut some costs by downsizing!

Constantly shop around

Make a phone date with your electricity, phone, cable, insurance, etc providers on a regular basis. Pay special attention to special rates and when they expire. Do not let yourself get caught “off contract” and paying some overly inflated market rate because you did not pay attention to your terms and contract dates.

Sometimes loyalty pays off, but sometimes it doesn’t. If another company can give you a comparable service/product, then jump ship. If loyalty is so important to the company you have been with for years and years, they will be able to match the quote. This alone can take HOURS of your time, but it is worth it for the savings!

Make a budget and stick to it

This should have probably been first! The only way you can be succesful living off one income (unless you have an endless amount of discretionary funds, in which case you are probably not reading this article!) is by budgeting!

I have written a whole series on budgeting, so rather than reinventing the wheel, just check out these posts:

Step 1: Decide Your Non Negotiables

Step 2: Write Down All Your Monthly/Yearly Expenses and Prioritize them

Step 3: Starting from the top, create your budget

Step 4: Revisit your budget often. At least once a month, more if your situation changes.

Sacrifice

Finally, you just might have to sacrifice. You will need to decide if the sacrifices you need to make to be a one income household are worth it. Maybe you won’t have the hot new bag the second it goes on the market.

Maybe you won’t get to go on a fancy vacation every year, or even every 5 years! You and your family need to decide if the sacrifices necessary to maintain a one income lifestyle are worth the trade off of being/becoming a dual income household.

Do you have any tips/advice for anyone planning to transition to a one income household? Comment below!

 

Wireless Charger for Kindle Fire? The Answer to Charging Your Kindle Fire Wirelessly

Wireless Charger for Kindle Fire

How many devices do you have in your household that need to be charged every day? If you are like us, you have a minimum of 2 cellphones and a Kindle Fire or two in your house!

Recently I have had some readers ask me to find deals on Kindle Fire Wireless Chargers or Powermats. Unfortunately, my research did not end up with good news.

Can a Kindle Fire be Charged Wirelessly?

If you are looking for a wireless kindle fire charger, unfortunately, wirelessly charging Kindle Fires is not actually possible. Kindle Fires are NOT qi compatible which is necessary for wirelessly charging your kindle fire device. However, if your goal is just a neater Kindle Fire charging station, here are some options!

This highly rated 6-Port USB Charger Desktop Charging Station with Smart Identification is a great alternative to wireless kindle fire charging.

You can also grab this charging stand for a great deal that works well (and looks good) with the charging station above!

Or you might be interested in this 4 USB port Fast Charging Dock Multi Charging Station Organizer includes the short charging cables you need to neatly charge all of your devices in one spot. 

No Wireless Charger for Kindle Fire…But…

Even though Kindle Fire Wireless charging pads are NOT currently an option, there are wireless charging pads/docks for almost every single cell phone. Click here to check out several options. 

Will Kindle Fires ever be qi compatible?

I am not sure. The argument I have seen is that Amazon does not want to open the door to off label usage of their product (Quality control I guess?). Knowing Amazon though, I could see them creating their own wireless charging technology for Kindle Fires if the demand proves to be high enough!

Meanwhile, be sure to check out the nice and neat charging stations I posted above. Amazon does offer some great and stylish alternatives to wireless chargers for Kindle Fires!

On that note, if you are a Kindle Fire user, be sure to check out my review on the Kindle Unlimited program. I LOVE Kindle Unlimited!

Low Carb & Keto Fathead Pizza Dough Recipe

Looking for even more tasty low carb/keto recipes? Try these out:

Italian Sausage Low Carb Soup Recipe

Low Carb Bacon Ranch Chicken Casserole Recipe

Easy Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash!

Creamy Garlic & Mozzarella Smothered Chicken Recipe

Weight Loss Coffee – Low Carb, High Fat Frozen Butter/Coconut Oil Pods (Great for Keto!)

Ever since I started following the low carb/keto way of eating, I have been making this amazing fathead pizza. I think the idea for fathead pizza originated with a documentary, but truthfully I have never watched it!

I probably should, but for now, I’ll just share my variation of the recipe.

Fathead Pizza 

Inspired by Fathead Movie

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 cup Almond Flour
  • 1 3/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese (shredded)
  • 2 Tbsp Cream Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • Pinch of salt
  • Italian Seasoning to taste –
  • Toppings you prefer – I tend to like sauce (Rao’s is great for low carb), mozzarella cheese, lots of meat and THIS stuff!)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Now. you are going to microwave the mozzarella cheese, cream cheese and almond flour together for approximately 1 minute. Stir until it starts to come together. You might need to put it back in the microwave for another 30-45 seconds.
  3. Next you will add the egg, salt & italian seasoning.
  4. Mix until you have a uniform dough (do not overmix)
  5. Put your dough in between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out to your desired thickness. Keep in mind the dough should be a bit sticky.
  6. Transfer your flattened crust to a baking sheet or pizza stone (you can/should keep the pizza dough on the parchment paper)
  7. Poke fork holes in the crust and then put it in your preheated oven for 12-15 minutes (sometimes I drizzle some olive oil on it too!)
  8. Remove your crust when it is nice and sufficiently browned. Flip it over to put the toppings on it (so during the 2nd round in the oven with the toppings…the bottom will brown too).
  9. Put your pizza with toppings back in the oven for 5-7 minutes (keep an eye on it, you are just wanting to melt the cheese and slightly brown the bottom of your pizza).
  10. Enjoy!

This fathead pizza is very filling and tasty. You will want to make this again and again! I am going to start trying this dough out to make different recipes and will update this post if I find some new and tasty ways to use it!

Fathead Pizza
Ingredients
  • Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup Almond Flour
  • 1 3/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese (shredded)
  • 2 Tbsp Cream Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • Pinch of salt
  • Italian Seasoning to taste –
  • Toppings you prefer – I tend to like sauce (Rao’s is great for low carb), mozzarella cheese, lots of meat and THIS stuff!)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Now. you are going to microwave the mozzarella cheese, cream cheese and almond flour together for approximately 1 minute. Stir until it starts to come together. You might need to put it back in the microwave for another 30-45 seconds.
  3. Next you will add the egg, salt & italian seasoning.
  4. Mix until you have a uniform dough (do not overmix)
  5. Put your dough in between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out to your desired thickness. Keep in mind the dough should be a bit sticky.
  6. Transfer your flattened crust to a baking sheet or pizza stone (you can/should keep the pizza dough on the parchment paper)
  7. Poke fork holes in the crust and then put it in your preheated oven for 12-15 minutes (sometimes I drizzle some olive oil on it too!)
  8. Remove your crust when it is nice and sufficiently browned. Flip it over to put the toppings on it (so during the 2nd round in the oven with the toppings…the bottom will brown too).
  9. Put your pizza with toppings back in the oven for 5-7 minutes (keep an eye on it, you are just wanting to melt the cheese and slightly brown the bottom of your pizza).
  10. Enjoy!
3.5.3236

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What Is Amazon Prime?

What is amazon prime?

 

If you are an avid amazon shopper, amazon prime is for YOU!! Even if you are not, joining amazon prime might just convert you into a amazon junkie.

Amazon prime is a yearly subscription service that gives you two day shipping on items shipped by amazon!

What are some other perks of being an Amazon Prime member?

There are many!! In addition to free 2 day shipping:

In some cases you have access to one day shipping or even same day shipping!! Also, select areas/products are also eligible for Prime Now shipping which gets your product to your door in just 2 hours or less!!

    • You are also eligible for release date pre-order shipping.
    • Free no rush shipping
    • Prime video

And more!!! See the full list of prime perks here.

How much does amazon prime cost?

First off, new prime customers are eligible for a 30 day free trial.

Click here: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

After that, amazon prime is $99 for a 1 year subscription or $12.99 if you choose to pay monthly.

Is there anyway to pay less for amazon prime?

Yes! Students can pay just $49 or $6.49 monthly. Amazon Prime student is currently offering a 6 month free trial! Sign up here: Prime Student 6-month Trial

To qualify, you must have a .edu email address. OR:

  • Your student ID displaying the current term or an expiration date; just a student ID number is not valid

    Your transcript or class list for the current term with your name and your school’s name on it

    Your tuition bill for the current term with your name and your school’s name on it

    An official acceptance letter for the upcoming term (must include matriculation date)

Or Prime is just $5.99/month for qualifying customers in select U.S. government assistance programs such as holders of the EBT card. Enjoy the benefits of Prime at almost 50% off the regular monthly price

Is amazon prime worth it?

For my family? Yes, absolutely. We do a LOT of shopping via Amazon during the holidays and all throughout the year. We watch several amazon exclusive shows and we heavily utilize amazon music (in fact we pay for the full subscription for amazon music, more on that soon!!). We more than feel like we make our money back on shipping alone, and when you add in all the other perks, for us…it is a no brainer!!

 

Want to save even more? Learn How to Use Amazon Subscribe & Save!

 

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