Soda Bottle Pumpkins

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Being that today is Halloween I will share our last Halloween activity with you all.  It's not too late to get in one more before the season is over.  I have seen this idea in various magazines and websites so it's impossible to give credit, but suffice it to say it was not my idea.  This is however, my spin on Soda Bottle Pumpkins.
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Food Fun Friday - Breakfast Face

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Today I thought I would share a quick kids meal I did for the girls.  I am all about fast and easy food, and breakfast doesn't get much easier than this.


I am a big fan of faces because they are just so easy and lets face it (pun intended) your kid will always recognize a face.  I have made things for them that I had to explain and that is never good. 
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Terrific Thursday Blog Hop! Week 38

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I am so thrilled to be the new co-host of the Terrific Thursday Blog Hop with Rondi from WAHM Resource Site!  Together, we are hoping to create an awesome weekly blog hop to find new blogs and meet new blog friends.


The Guidelines for participating in the Terrific Thursday blog hop are as follows:

1. Please grab the blog hop button to spread the word. 

2. Please follow the two hosts and guest host – Mess For Less and WAHM Resource Site, and guest host Masshole Mommy via Google Friend Connect (feel free to follow on Twitter and Facebook as well).

3. Please do not link up your giveaways, blog hops, etc. (These will be deleted.)

Link up your blog, visit and follow the blogs that interest you and have fun! If you follow our blogs and leave a comment, we will always follow you back!

Now, let’s get blog hoppin’ and have some fun!

You only need to add your link to one linky for it to show up on all participating blogs. The linkys will open every Wednesday by 8:00pm CST.

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Painting Pumpkins 3 Ways

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Today's idea is brought to you by Twitter.  I am a recent convert and one of things I like best is connecting with other mommy bloggers.  Yesterday, I responded to a tweet from the fabulous Frugal Family Fun blog run by Val.  Seriously, if you have not checked out her ideas, you should.  This lady is an idea machine!  Anyway, yesterday I tweeted to her that I planned to decorate some small pumpkins with girls.  I didn't have any ideas how we should do it, so I asked her for ideas.  She suggested decorating the pumpkins with star stickers, painting them and peeling off the stickers when dry to reveal the pattern. So thanks to Val for the inspiration here.

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Fun with Foam Pumpkins

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During our last trip to the dollar store, "A" spotted these little cuties. Foam pumpkins! I am so glad she noticed these because when I saw them I knew we could use them for a few Halloween games and activities.  


If you don't know about some of the cool activities your child can do with foam, check out our Foam Window Clings.  This is a variation on that activity.
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It's the Great Glitter Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

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You all know how much I like paper plates.  We've already made these little guys from some white paper plates.  Well, I was so thrilled when I happened upon some glitter paper plate pumpkins at Blissful and Domestic.  I put it on my ever-growing to-do list.  It shot to the top of the list when I was at Target the other day and spied the orange paper plates.  I took it as a sign that this art project needed to get done.

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Apples Two Ways - Part Deux

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Hey, you came back!  For those keeping score, I promised to share the second apple kids craft today.  I am all about ease and simplicity.  When I did the first apple activity, I cut a tree out of brown construction paper and glued it to a background piece of the paper.  When I was doing that I knew I wanted to do two apple activities so I cut out some extra trees.  I used them here.


Supplies you will need:
  • Tree cutout
  • pom poms in Fall colors
  • glue (I poured some in apple sauce cups and gave the girls a brush to paint it on since they lack the hand strength for glue bottles)
The girls were very excited when they got their "apples."  They pretended to eat them and then tried to sort them by color.

"A" starts by gluing her small apples first.

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Apples Two Ways

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I have to admit, the title of this post was inspired by Top Chef.  I love that show and noticed that often in the challenges a chef will take an ingredient and cook and present it in two ways. It always sounds fancier to say you've made something two ways.   Try it next time you host a party.

I wish the apples in this kids craft were edible, but alas, they are not.  With the weather finally turning a little cooler in Northern California, I was inspired to do some kids activities that  focused on the Fall.  I loved this fun idea I saw at The Picky Apple where they painted using wine corks.  We are not big wine drinkers and don't have any corks lying around, so I modified the project to use bottle caps.

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Frugal Fun Ideas Part 2

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If you read Part 1 of our Frugal Fun Ideas then you saw some fun kids games that can be done on a budget.  But if you like saving money as much as I do, then you are always looking for more inexpensive children's activities.   Here are a few more of my favorite activities for the kids.

Sensory Tubs

Did you know that you probably already have a sensory tub in your home?  Most of us do.  Any kind of container where you can pour something in for kids to explore can become a sensory tub.  I bought some clear shoebox sized containers at the dollar store and I use them for many kids activities.  So grab a tub (bigger is good too) and throw materials in there for exploring.  A cheap favorite?  Uncooked beans.  I use whatever is on sale.  Dump them in your tub and give your kids some cups, spoons, little toys to hide, anything that would be fun.  You would be surprised at how long this will entertain children.  They are getting some good practice at measuring, scooping and pouring too!  This will require supervision especially if you have the kind of kid who would stick a bean up their nose.  I have that kind of kid.

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Paper Bag Pumpkins

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We had a bunch of paper bags leftover from A and B's 3rd birthday party in July.  We printed on some of them and used them as goody bags.  So I have been trying to think up some paper bag crafts to use up our extra paper bags.  I have been on a pumpkin kick as of late, so I thought why not paper bag pumpkins.

What you will need:

  • Lunch bag sized brown paper bags (though now that I think about it, larger bags would make bigger pumpkins)
  • Orange paint and paint brush
  • Something to make the face with.  We used sticky foam shapes.  You could use paint, makers or any number of supplies for your faces.
  • Tissue paper or bunched up magazines
  • Green ribbon

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Frugal Fun Ideas Part 1

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A few months back I shared a series of guest posts on Real Life Deals.  These fun, inexpensive activities have never appeared on Mess For Less, so I thought I would share them here.  This is the first of a two part series.

If you have kids, your home is probably littered with toys.  Yet somehow, I bet your kids can never find anything to do.  That is the case in our house where we have so many books, games and toys that we could open a toy store.  Despite all this, I often find my 3 girls arguing, following me around and just generally being bored.  I wanted to find a way to keep them from being bored and me from going insane.  If could learn something and make some memories along the way, all the better!  But you see, I am a pretty frugal mom so I didn't want to spend a lot.  I discovered we could do lots of fun and educational activities without breaking the bank.  My big philosophy is to use what you have.  Look around and try and come up with different uses for items or refashion something.  Here are a few ideas that will keep the kids happy and keep mommy and daddy sane.

Hanging Socks

This activity is great for toddlers and preschoolers who are developing their fine motor skills.  These skills are so important as kids start to write, cut and manipulate smaller objects.  Grab some rope or twine and tie it between two chairs at your child's level.  Give them some clean socks and a bunch of clothes pins and put them to work.  My girls love doing things that adults do, so they found this activity to be lots of fun.  If you're like me, you have a bag of mismatched socks just looking for a partner.  This is a great use of them!  If your preschooler is older, then you can use pairs of matching socks and have them try and match them up on the line.

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Halloween Meal with Ghost Popcorn

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It's been a while since I have posted a fun food idea.  With Halloween around the corner, I was inspired for this easy meal by some popcorn we had made earlier in the day.  I was thinking of how some pieces resembled ghosts and I decided to build a meal around them.  Unfortunately, I decided to do this about 7 minutes before we were supposed to eat, and I needed to make 3 of these plates.  I'm sure there was a lot more I could have done, but I was happy with what I did in 7 minutes.  

The supplies I used were a pumpkin cookie cutter (you might remember this from an earlier painting project), black Wilton food writer, and a pumpkin cupcake topper.  I used the pumpkin shaped cookie cutter on the American cheese and then cut the face out with a knife.  I made a gate for the pumpkin to sit on with buttered toast (hubby didn't think it looked much like a gate, but my kids are 3 and 20 months so they are less discriminating).  I carved a little jack o'lantern out of cheddar cheese and used my food writer on it before putting a cupcake topper on top.  I wanted a scarecrow, but time was running out so hubby made one out of a hot dog.  I think it came out pretty cute considering our limited time.


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Paper Plate Pumpkin Patch

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We are really starting to get into the Halloween spirit here!  After our first attempt at Halloween art using cookie cutters, we were ready for more.  I have a simple Halloween craft for you today.  You have already heard me rave about the versatility of  cookie cutters, food coloring, and straws.  Well, lets talk about paper plates.  In the past I used paper plates when I ran out of clean dishes.  A normal person would just wash the dishes, right?  Well, not me.  I would resort to paper plates and when those ran out I would beg my husband to wash the dishes wash the dishes.  But I am trying to me more environmentally friendly these days, so I have a stack of paper plates that are no longer being used.  If you have some paper plates too, go grab them along with some orange paint, a brush, and black and green construction paper and meet me back here.

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Cookie Cutter Art and Unexpected Banners

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Did you know themed cookie cutters should be on your wishlist?  What's that? You are trying to be healthy and you don't eat cookies?  You still need cookie cutters.  I can't tell how many times I have used my giant set of cookie cutters and not once have I made cookies with them.  I got a giant Wilton set at Michael's with a 40% coupon, but really any kinds of cookie cutters will do.  You might be wondering what does this lady use cookie cutters for if not for cookies?  I mean it's almost blasphemous not to use them for cookies.

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Straw Art

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If you have been following Mess For Less for any length of time you may remember how I debated buying some straws for $1.89 (yes I am THAT cheap).  I wanted to make sure if I purchased them I would get at least 3 projects out of them.  The first was Straw Jewelry, the second was Color Drop Game, and the third is Straw Art that I will be sharing with you today.

Here are the supplies you will need:
Paper (we used construction paper)
Glue (we used a brush and glue in a cup because my daughters aren't strong enough to squeeze glue from the bottle)
Cut up colored straws

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Fun with Fruit

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It's a raining today in my Northern California town and I have a few easy, fun food activities that are great for a rainy day.  If your kids are anything like mine, they love to help out in the kitchen.  If they are also like my kids, then they like making messes in the kitchen.  Today we will be putting the kids to work with minimal mess. And they will also be learning some math concepts along the way.

Patterned Fruit Skewers
The first idea was sent to me by my friend Raine. You will need grapes in 2 colors and a wooden skewer.


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Review and Giveaway: Kim and Scott's Gourmet Pretzels

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Have you heard about Kim and Scott's Gourmet Pretzels?  Let me tell you a little bit about them.  Better yet, let them tell you a little about them.  From their website:

Imagine a unique twist to your grab-and-go meal! We offer an assortment of amazing, ready-to-heat pretzels, using ALL-NATURAL and PREMIUM ingredients, like freshly shredded cheeses, hearty spices, unbleached flour and whole grains. We combine a traditional European recipe with our own special twist, creating a truly handmade soft pretzel that is great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

All-Natural
Source of Whole Grain
No Trans Fats
Premium Ingredients
Twisted by Hand & Made from Scratch
No Hydrogenated Oils
Microwavable
Made in a Nut-Free Facility
No Preservatives

I want to add that it also makes a great snack!

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Coffee Filter Art

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Today's project stretched over a few days.  It started as one thing and turned into something else.  Life is like that a lot, huh? So let's start the journey.

I wanted to do some fine motor practice with the girls and I thought color mixing might be a fun way to do it.  I ordered some pipettes from Oriental Trading a while back and had not had a chance to use them yet.  Don't worry if you don't have pipettes.  I have done this in the past with medicine droppers and it has worked just as well.  The supplies I used: ice cube trays, pipettes, food coloring, coffee filters, and a waterproof plate or tray.

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We have a WINNER!

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We are excited to announce the winner of our Erin Baker's Cookie giveaway!

Congratulations go out to comment # 59, Trish!  


The winner has been notified and will soon be enjoying some yummy cookies.  Thanks to everyone who entered!  Be on the lookout for more giveaways in the future.  
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