Make a Mini Notebook

I just made a batch of mini notebooks for party favors - it's really easy and they can be used as sketch books, journals, to-do lists, sticker books for kids, etc. Sorry the photos are so dark, will have to check my camera settings.

To avoid having to cut out my own blank sheets, I used a notepad we already had. I simply took out 5 sheets and folded each one in half. Use a bone folder if you have one, I just grabbed a tiny butter spreader.

Next, stack the folded pages, open them up and put in two staples directly on the fold line. Refold the stack and recrease the folded edge to keep it nice and sharp.
To make the cover, use the notepad you took the papers from as a template. Trace around it onto the back of a sheet of decorative paper, adding a quarter inch to the length so that when you fold it over the blank sheets, the cover will extend just slightly over the pages. Your cover can be made out of a variety of materials. You could use old magazine pages, make holiday theme notebooks by using old holiday cards, unused wallpaper, old gift bags, anything made of paper that can be glued.

Using the notepad again, cut another piece of paper the width of the notebook but only about 1.5 - 2.0" long. This piece will cover the "spine" of your notebook like the binding on a book. The larger your notebook, the wider you will want this to be.

Fold the binding piece in half lengthwise, brush on a thin layer of glue and apply it to the spine of the cover. Next, open the cover and brush a stripe of glue in right along the fold. Place the blank pages inside and press. I put mine under a heavy book for a while as the glue dried.

That's all there is to it. I found my quilter's ruler to be helpful in lining up the pieces to make sure all my lines and cuts would be straight. I would rather have used a paper cutter or rotary cutter but I don't have either yet!
I'd love to take the time to make some embellished a bit more - perhaps with stamps, fabric, ribbon, etc.

This post is linked up at Blue Cricket Design's Show & Tell Wednesday Linking Party!!

This project is also shared at Skip To My Lou's Made By You Monday.

Chocolate on the Cheap

In budget discussions with my husband, we often talk about the small things that add up. We agree that Every Ten Dollars Counts.

Here's one of my favorite ways to save ten dollars - this month, when you crave chocolate, instead of spending five bucks on a package of cookies a couple of times, make these!

If you have fifteen minutes, you have time to make these treats. It's super easy.

Chocolate Fudge Drops
2c. sugar mixed with 1/2 c. cocoa powder til blended
1 cube of butter
1/2 c. milk

mix in a saucepan over med. high heat till well blended, keep slowly stirring. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring continuously, til a few drops dripped in to a cup of cold water make a nice miniature cookie shaped mound when they hit the bottom of the cup. (technically, soft ball stage, but whenever I use my candy thermometer it gets way overcooked, so I give you Nana's cold water method instead.)

Mix in a half cup of peanut or almond butter, a teaspoon of vanilla, then three cups of oatmeal. Most recipes use quick, but I like the chewy factor of the old fashioned kind. Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment or foil and allow to cool completely. It will seem like they are too gooey at first but in a couple of hours they should come off the parchment without squishing between your fingers. ( I eat some anyway, lol).

Variation: To make Caramel Drops, omit the cocoa powder and use evaporated milk instead of regular. (if you don't have any or don't want to use canned, you can just boil 2 c. milk in a skillet til it measures about 3/4c. and that will work fine.) Use half regular sugar and half rapadura (dried unrefined cane sugar - really caramelly tasting stuff, mmm!)

This Month's Most Useful Tutes

My little ones think I can do anything, (my two year old proudly proclaims to anyone who will listen, "Mommy did it!!") but I often rely on the creativity of others to inspire and instruct me. I am constantly finding tutorials online that help me get the job done. Most used lately:

Make toddler pants out of t-shirts
These "t-pants" are so easy - you can literally make a pair in fifteen minutes or less - and the result is so soft and comfy it makes me want a pair of my own.

How to Spatchcock a Chicken

With all the grilling summer brings, this is a simple way to make cooking a whole chicken more reliable and more impressive without really trying!

Easy Trick to making a Pillowcase
Ok, this one is kind of a cheat because I actually learned this from my great-aunt while we were on our vacation (an expert quilter, she let me sew on her $2K machine - whoo!) but it's such a good tip with such professional looking results, I found a good photo tutorial so you can do it too. Save a ton of money on Christmas presents this year with this one!

Park the RV & Start a Blog

Having just returned from a two week vacation, this seems as good a time as any to start the blog that's been rattling around in my head for a couple of years. Taking the family through eight states in an RV was a lot of fun, some hassle and a lot of warm fuzzy memories. Here are a couple of lists that might save you some trouble on your next trip!

Best choices we made:

*Brought the dog's crate - became absolutely necessary when we unexpectedly ended up staying in a hotel - we brought it as an afterthought, never thinking we'd really use it.

*Planned to end each day's travel in the late afternoon - this gave us time to get out, let the kids decompress, and we were able to relax and make a decent meal for dinner.

*Upgraded our AAA to a premium membership which included trip insurance - A forty dollar investment that saved us almost $1300.00 after our trip was interrupted by mechanical trouble.

Worst choices we made:

*I completely overestimated our ability to provide activities for the kids while we were on the highway. It turned out that long stretches of the road were as rough as cobblestone, with a few areas of high winds. The RV was jostled about and swayed with each semi truck that blew past. In retrospect, having lots of different things the kids can do while remaining seat belted would be a much better plan.

*Take the dog out before you do anything else. LOL I Learned that the hard way at the end of one tiring day when I made the dog wait while exhausted mama and baby sat and nursed. I spent a half hour scrubbing carpet while my husband was out getting pizza. To my credit, I cleaned up so thoroughly that to this day he has no idea there was a poo problem.

*Brought my kombucha brewing jar - I wanted to be able to have kombucha, but the temp got way too high and the tea didn't ferment properly. I had to throw away the scoby when we got home. Luckily, I had separated it from the main jar so I still have a healthy scoby to brew with.
A mostly successful trip, and we learned so much that the next one will be even better.