Archive | Guest Posts

Halloween Costumes on a Budget

Hi Everyone!  I have my cousin Tiara doing a “guest post” today!  She is Amazing! I love her blog she has recently been updating with some fun crafty things.  Here is her post today, enjoy!

My name is Tiara, cousin to Natalie. Who by the way, is one of my very favorite people ever! I am the mommy of a very active firecracker and the wife of a very hardworking helicopter pilot. I am a born and raised Utah girl, but has recently had my heart stolen by the Lone Star state of Texas. Being new to this stay-at-home mommy business I have found a new love in blogging @ the Reeder’s digest. I hope to share my thoughts, new ideas or just my life with whomever stumbles my way. Since the beginning of time….

Or ever since I can remember, I have been smitten by Hallow‘s Eve! It has always been my favorite holiday (except Christmas, but I mean is that even a debate?!).

Growing up in a large family, being a daughter of a farmer and a homemaker, we had to get creative when it came to Halloween. Credit given to my mom and her frugal-ness and sewing capabilities we had a plethora of fun costumes to choose from. It was like its own little holiday, getting to retrieve the garbage sacks full of Halloween stuff from the attic every year! But when I got to Jr. High I decided to take it into my own hands! And that, ladies and gents is when it all started!

So if you’re like me and hate buying the prepackaged costumes (because of the price, not because I don’t think they are cute, cause I do…well, most of them) read my tips that have worked for me over the years. Because I have found great joy and thrill in making and “throwing together” homemade costumes every year.

Here are some from the past, wish I had ALL of them to show you, but that would just take SOOOO long!

Queen of Hearts and Ace of Hearts
– 2007 Brett and I were engaged
Disco Dancer and the Disco Ball (Preggo belly)
– 2010 Pregnant with Azure
Chef, Waitress and Crab in a Pot
– 2011 Azure 8 mo old
Cutest crab you will ever see!
Here is a break down of what I spent each year:
Queen of hearts:  
Tutu: Dollar store with a deck of mini cards hot glued on. $1 (already had the mini deck)
Large Card: Dollar store, Pinned to shirt
Tiara and Heart Wand:  a princess set from the Dollar Store, can’t go wrong with a Tiara wearing a tiara!
Heart Necklace: Was given to me as a Bday gift from my bff. FREE!
Brett’s Joker Hat: FREE! My mom always made us skiing hats back in the day and this was one of them that we borrowed.
Large Ace Card: 2 poster boards from the Dollar Store
Grand Total: $5!
Disco Ball and Dancer:
Boots: $4 from the DI, spray painted silver (already had the paint)
Sequin Skirt and Top: Both from the DI, think I paid $2 for each
Disco Ball earrings and Necklace: Borrowed from a Friend… FREE!!
Bell Bottoms: Borrowed
Shirt: His white dress up
Vest: From his hot wife’s closet!
Necklace: Also stolen from his wife!
Grand TOTAL: $8!
Chef, Waitress and Crab in a Pot:
Everything I had in my closet except the apron, $0.97 @ Walmart!
Brett: Apron and Hat both $0.97 @ Walmart!
My sister found a hat at KID2KID that was from some restaurant for $2. It had the eyes and tentacles on it. So I took them off and hot glued them to a sweater Azure already had. Glued the eyes to a CARS winter hat I found at Walmart which also came with red mittens for $5. She had red pants; and the red socks were $1 @ TARGET. Kitchen Cart: Borrowed from Brett’s mom. And the pot… From my kitchen cupboard!
Grand TOTAL: $10.91!


Tips for Frugal Halloween Costumes
  • Think ahead. Try and come up with what everyone will be dressing up as early on in the month (or year, that’s how much I love it!). That will make it so that when you are at the store and you see a random item that would go perfect with a costume you can get it; and save the headache of trying to make 1 trip, last minute to Walmart and be stuck wearing an XXXL banana costume cause it was the only thing left. Or my least favorite, wearing NO COSTUME AT ALL?!!! gasp!
  • Hit up the 2nd hand/ thrift and dollar stores! You can never go wrong there, as you can see with my costumes from the past.
  • Make a list of what everyone’s going to be and what their costume needs, and keep it in your purse at all times. When you are out shopping you can refer to the list. I have to do this with everything in life or I can’t remember a thing. If I didn’t do this Azure would be wearing an orange wig, hot pink coat, 1 rain boot 1 flip flop and a church dress! No Joke!
  • Remember, you don’t have to be “crafty” to do a homemade costume. It really is EASY! It just takes a little imagination and a little trust in yourself.
  • Make a budget, it helps with getting creative! My budget this year was $20. This is the most I’ve ever spent on costumes but I think I still rocked it.
  • Check your own closet, I guarantee you will find at least 2 things you can use!
  • Once everyone chooses what they want to be (or if you still have the luxury of choosing for your kids) find a pic on the internet so you can envision the goal.

Now for this years inspiration….Are you ready?!………..

Hahaha… don’t you just love the dancing oompa-loompa?!

I’m going to let you in on a little confession of mine. When I was pregnant with Azure, Brett and I were looking for ideas of what to be for Halloween that year. I saw a picture of a toddler as an oompa-loompa and I told Brett that when our (unborn) child was that age they were going to be an oomp-loompa! That was 2 years of waiting for this moment! Wow! It feels good to get that off my chest! Though I’m a little embarrassed that you all know now how weird I am!

To achieve this years fun I hit up my local Goodwill while out one day and with my “list” I was able to find EVERYTHING I needed. I did a happy dance of course! And even better, it was all in my budget of $20!

Purple Women’s Blazer
Blue Medical Scrubs
$3.99 each
White pants and Brown Long Sleeve Shirt
$2.29 and $1.79
Women’s Long Sleeve Striped Shirt


I was happier than a nerd at comic-con when I got home that day! Laying out all my treasures (after washing them first of course) and beaming in my success of the day. I then got out my sewing machine and went to work.

I cut off the legs on the pants and gave them a new hem
I took the women’s striped shirt and cut it up, making leggings wrist cuffs and a collar for my little oompa-loompa. 
Made suspenders from white elastic from my sewing junk, hot glued clamps on, and cut brown felt circles.

Grand Total: $7.87!

For Violet Beauregard all I had to do was add a red belt from my closet, and come Halloween I shall stuff myself with a pillow, and color my hair blue!

Grand Total: $7.98!

For Willy Wonka I dug through my scarves and found one for the bow-tie and one to add some frill! I just need to find a top hat and make a cane!

Grand Total: $5.29!
Making this years GRAND TOTAL: $21.14!
I went over budget a little but I’m still proud of it all and can’t wait to dress up!

*Come back and visit  next week for pictures of us all dressed up!
And an extra bonus, I found this cute Elephant costume size 2-4 for $7 which retails at $27.00 in stores! I already know what I want to do to make this costume even more Azurific!
I have next year planned already 🙂
                                      I’m thinking Zoo Animals and
a Zoo Keeper!
                  Good thing we have a whole year
to get her used to wearing it 😉

Summer Birthday Ideas

Today’s post comes from Melissa from The Party Works.

How To Throw a Summer Birthday Party for Your Child

When your child has a summer birthday party, he or she can feel a little bit overlooked. All the kids that have birthdays during the school year seem to get special treatment. Their classmates sing to them on their birthdays, and everyone talks about their birthday parties at school before they happen. Since school is out in the summer, no one is there to sing happy birthday to kids born in the summer except their parents. And when their birthday parties happen, several of their friends can’t attend their parties because they’re on family trips. So, how do you make your child’s birthday party extra special in the summer? Here are some summer birthday party suggestions:

1. Send out invitations before the school year ends – This will give all the party guests plenty of time to know about the party. It’s unlikely that they’ll change their vacation plans just to attend your child’s party. However, sending the invitations out early will give all the guests who are going to be in town a chance to make room in their schedules before the party. It’s also a good idea to send out a reminder email to all of the prospective party guests the week of the party.

2. Make it a fun, outdoor-themed party – An indoor party in the summer just isn’t very festive. Unless it’s just too hot outside, consider throwing the party in your backyard. You could make it a Hawaiian themed party or you could get some Slip N’ Slides and kiddie pools and scatter them around your yard. If you are have a pool in your backyard, you could have a pool party. There are a million different kinds of parties you could host in your backyard. So, brainstorm with the birthday boy or girl and pick the best type of outdoor party based on his or her unique interests.

3. Prepare with the right supplies – If you’re going to host the summer birthday party outside, make sure you have plenty of water or Gatorade and a first aid kit. When it’s warmer outside, kids are more likely to get dehydrated, and when they have freedom to run around outside, they’re more likely to trip in fall. Additionally, you should consider investing in some festive party decorations and supplies, particularly if you’re throwing a themed party like a Hawaiian party. Doing so will make the party more special and memorable for your child.

The suggestions above should help you plan a near-perfect birthday party this summer for your child. Of course, a few things may go wrong before and during the party, but it’s the thought that will count to your child!

Author’s Bio: Melissa is a mom and guest blogger who writes about party planning, seasonal parties, and Super Mario party supplies.


Simple & Tasty Chicken Tortilla Soup

My good friend Susan has agreed to do a guest post for us today!  She is an amazing cook, and I’m way excited about this recipe that she is going to share with us.  Thanks Susan!


Hi there!  I’m Susan, a friend and former co-worker of Ashlee’s. She invited me to take her Friday post spot this week.  I am so excited to be posting on a blog that I follow! 

A little bit about me:  I have been married for almost seven years to my high school sweetheart.   Together we have two Shih-Tzus, Kirby& Kiefer and live in our new home in Nibley, UT.   I gave myself the title of, Domestic Engineer late last year.  We are currently going through the adoption process here in the states.  We did a mission trip in Haiti last Summer and fell in love with a five year old girl, Laughina (Loo-Gene-uh), who we are struggling to be able to adopt (we are too young right now).  I enjoy cooking/baking, crafting, and being a hostess. Most (not all) of my kitchen skills come from my older sister, Shannon. My #1 rule when following a recipe is to actually read it completely beforehand. OH! I also get sucked into a well-written TV series like you wouldn’t believe.  You can reach me at:

Simple Chicken Tortilla Soup

 Makes 8 Servings


10 c. chicken broth
4 c. cooked chicken chopped

1 – 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes

2 – diced white onions
2 – cloves minced garlic
1/4 c. finely chopped cilantro
Salt & Pepper

Cheddar cheese (shredded) for topping (I always get sharp because it’s cheesier and you can use less of it!)
Doritos or Tortilla Chips
Sour Cream (optional)
Avocado sliced or cubed (optional)

I just got a Cuisinart food processor during the Black Friday sales, and I must say!  It’s amazing.  It is my favorite tool in my kitchen, even more than my pink Kitchen-Aid mixer!  If I’m frustrated about something… I go “process” something because it’s powerful. Kitchen appliances are like power tools for us girls.  You don’t need every kind, just a few good tools to help you enjoy what you do everyday:) The only downside to using the food processor is things quickly lose their texture.  So be careful if that’s what you choose to use to mix together the second set of ingredients.

If you are like most people you don’t make homemade chicken stock on a regular basis (even though it’s the tastiest and most nutritious way) you probably buy the cans/boxes, or use bouillon.  However you choose to come up with the 10 cups, is up to you!  For the chicken, you could tear it off of a rotisserie chicken (very flavorful), boil the chicken and dice, or buy it in a can (not my favorite option).  In a large stockpot, pour in the broth and cooked chicken set to Medium Heat and cover.  Next, blend next five ingredients in blender or food processor, but try to leave it a little chunky to have some texture.  You could do this by hand, but it won’t release the flavors quite as well.  Pour mixture into the large stockpot and stir. Simmer for 20 minutes, still covered.  Serve with chips, cheese, sour cream, and avocado. 

Everyone I have served this to, loves it and asks for the recipe. People who don’t like cilantro or chicken tortilla soup even enjoy this soup. Try it out and enjoy!

-Susan B.