Being Cheap is Easy

Summer Boredom Buster: Yay Labs! Ice Cream Ball

August 01, 2015

Disclaimer: We received the Yay Labs Ice Cream Ball as part of the #StonyfieldBloggers program. All opinions are my own.

#YayLabs, DIY Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream Ball, Stonyfield Yogurt, #StonyfieldBlogger
So we’re hitting that “I’m boooooored” part of summer. I’ve pulled out all of my tricks so far: exciting themed library trips, numerous trips to the zoo, fun craft mornings and now I’m just plain out of ideas.  It doesn’t help that the weather has been in the 90s all week. My girls have quite the Teen Beach 2 obsession going on too. I let them watch 20 minute chunks of it at a time so they aren’t zombies in front of the TV all day.
#YayLabs, DIY Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream Ball, Stonyfield Yogurt, #StonyfieldBlogger

We got the Yay Labs! Ice Cream Ball last month and the girls have been dying to try it. I figured frozen yogurt would be best! Initially, I planned to use our favorite Banilla Stonyfield yogurt, but we gobbled that up too fast.  Plain yogurt is a perfect blank canvas, though!

For more information about the Yay Labs! Ice Cream ball, check out their website.  They're also on Facebook and Instagram!
#YayLabs, DIY Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream Ball, Stonyfield Yogurt, #StonyfieldBlogger

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Makes: About a pint

What You Need:
  • Yay Labs Ice Cream Ball
  • 1 cup rock salt
    •  I found this by ice cream makers, but it’s also in the salt section
  • 2 cups Stonyfield plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 8-10 cups ice
Combine yogurt, chopped strawberries and honey in a pourable bowl/cup (I love the 4 cup Pyrex one) and mix. On the reverse side of the ball, add rock salt and ice. Ours took about 9 cups. Fill the ice cream side of the ball with yogurt mixture.

Let the kiddos play with it for 10 minutes, then scrape down the sides. Play for an additional 10 minutes. Ours was still a bit soupy in the middle, but once we mixed it together, it was perfect.
#YayLabs, DIY Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream Ball, Stonyfield Yogurt, #StonyfieldBlogger

We can’t wait to try new flavors! Since the ball is so heavy, be sure to help out the kiddos.  My girls were quite tired after the first 10 minutes.  Also, no kicking the ball---you could break your foot AND the ball.

Overall thoughts: We really had fun with this. It doesn’t make a ton of ice cream, but I could see us taking this on a vacation or camping for a fun activity. I did find it hard to scrape the sides of the container after the yogurt was frozen—be sure to use a metal ice cream scoop.  Next time, I’m going to scrape down the sides every 5 minutes instead of 10.  Also, since the ball is so heavy, be sure to really supervise while they’re playing so no one gets hurt. Older kids would have a much easier time (my twins are 6 and daughter is 4). The kids LOVED this tasty treat and were pretty proud that they made it.  Anything to get the kids excited about cooking is an A+ in my book!
#YayLabs, DIY Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream Ball, Stonyfield Yogurt, #StonyfieldBlogger

What are your summer boredom busters?

New Book: DIY T-Shirt Crafts #Giveaway!

July 31, 2015

T-shirt crafts, Giveaway, DIY, Amazon, Books, Crafty

Hey crafty friends! I've got a great giveaway to share with anyone out there who is a craft lover (or if you're looking for gift ideas for a crafter you love). My friend Adrianne Surian of Happy Hour Projects just published her first craft book, DIY T-Shirt Crafts! I met her in Chicago at SoFabU OTR a few weeks ago and we instantly clicked. Adrianne is also from Grand Rapids!

To help spread the word, there are TWO ways to win! Five lucky readers will win a copy of the book, and there's also an Instagram sweepstakes to win a pair of Fiskars spring-loaded scissors! Read on to get the scoop. 

DIY T-Shirt Crafts is a collection of 50 ways to recycle an old tee. In it, you'll find scarves and jewelry, accessories, home decor, gifts, and more. The projects are designed to take an hour or less, and you don't need a sewing machine to make them - some projects require little more than a tee and a sharp pair of scissors!  I was able to look through it in Chicago and there are SO many cute and simple ideas. We have so many extra t-shirts to upcyle!
Here's a look at a few of the projects you'll find in the book:
T-shirt crafts, Giveaway, DIY, Amazon, Books, Crafty

T-shirt crafts, Giveaway, DIY, Amazon, Books, Crafty

DIY T-Shirt Crafts is available online at Amazon and Barnes &Noble, or ask for it at your local bookstore. It hits the shelves on August 1st.
A photo posted by Ashleigh Evans ��Writer/Foodie (@itscheapash) on
To enter this giveaway, leave me a comment below letting me know why you're excited to win this book! Will you start crafting with some of your old tees? Do you have a friend or family member who's a craft-a-holic? Is there a particular project you're excited to make? Then, claim your entry on the Rafflecopter form below. You can also earn a bonus entry by tweeting a message to share the giveaway! U.S. readers and friends can enter now through August 7th, 2015 (entries will be collected until 11:59 pm Eastern time). No purchase necessary; void where prohibited.

Did you already buy the book? Not to worry, you can still win something special! Just take a selfie with your book (or any image of the book), and post it to Instagram or to Twitter! Tag @HappyHrProjects, and use the hashtag #DIYTShirtCrafts to be entered to win a pair of spring-loaded 8" Fiskars Titanium Nitride Scissors (a $28 value). No purchase necessary. U.S. residents 18 and up may enter now through August 7, 2015 at 11:59 pm EDT - read the full rules at Happy Hour Projects.

Box Tops Coordinating 101: New Year, New Goals! #Hefty4BoxTops

July 29, 2015

Disclaimer: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Hefty4BoxTops #CollectiveBias
#Hefty4BoxTops, #CollectiveBias, Cbias, Walmart, Hefty, Box Tops, Box Tops Coordinator, School

Holy cow, it's almost August already! Back-to-School displays are popping up everywhere.  I'm starting to come to terms that I will have ALL THREE girls in school this fall.  Granted, Gabby will just be half day in preschool, but I will have 3 hours TO MYSELF.  

Pasta Night: Ricky's Creamy Chicken Marsala

July 22, 2015

Chicken Marsala, Marsala Wine, Chicken Pasta, Pasta Night, Italian Dinner Party, Russo's Grand Rapids, #GrandRapids, #GRMI
Our family is quite a little mixing bowl of diversity.  Ricky is half Italian and half Mexican.  I'm half white and half black.  When I'm filling out forms for my girls, I don't know which boxes to check!

Ricky has quite a few tasty Italian AND Mexican dishes up his sleeve.  My mom requests his meatballs for holidays...maybe he'll spill that recipe sometime for you all, too!  He started making this creamy marsala when he was in culinary school.  As much as he loves cooking, after a few months in culinary school, we decided the chef hours might not work with our family.  Hopefully one day we'll open up a food truck or something since we're both such foodies.

Let's Chat About...Grand Rapids' Own G.B. Russos!

July 21, 2015

#GBRusso, Grand Rapids, #GRMI, #PureMichigan, Grand Rapids local stores, Italian market Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Wine
In August, we will celebrate our Five Year anniversary of living in Michigan. It's crazy how time flies!! It wasn't until about two years ago that we discovered G.B. Russo & Son, located on 29th Street, close to Breton.  I drove by it a million times because I loathe 28th Street, but I never knew what it was!

I feel like Russo's is like a secret club: either you know about it or you don't. I've spoken with many people in Grand Rapids that have no clue about it or they speak praises. So now EVERYONE should know what a great, local grocery store Russo's is!  You know it's going to be an amazing store the minute the doors open and you get a whiff--it's a combination of bread and spices that makes your stomach growl.

G.B. Russo & Son has been in business for 110 years! You know they're doing something right! You can shop for a variety of items from wine, beer, sausages, take-home homemade meals and more! I can literally browse the aisles for an hour if I'm without my kiddos! To introduce any newbies, I thought I should do a virtual mini-tour.  If you're local, I would be SO happy to give you a real one.
#GBRusso, Grand Rapids, #GRMI, #PureMichigan, Grand Rapids local stores, Italian market Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Wine
Since I'm a huge fan of beer and wine, we'll start with the good stuff.  If you are looking for a HUGE selection of wine, beer and liquor at great prices, head here. They have aisles of wine to browse.  My favorite section is the bargain area, of course.  Look for carts lined up in the middle of an aisle with marked down wine. I've scored some bottles at almost 75% off. This is a great way to try new brands or stock up for a party.  They have a weekly email list I suggest signing up for so you can get a heads up on which wines are on sale for the week!

Across the store on the front wall is the beer area.  There are SO many varieties of local and craft brews to check out.  On the weekly email list, they'll also let you know if there's any beer specials. I like to pick up cases for $10...last week it was a Great Lakes Brewery one.

Tip: Right across from the beer coolers, you'll see the rack of Day-Old bread...if you're lucky! Those loaves freeze up well and you can make garlic bread or crumbs from them.
#GBRusso, Grand Rapids, #GRMI, #PureMichigan, Grand Rapids local stores, Italian market Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Wine
I love their deli for the variety of sausages and sliced deli meat that is hard to find elsewhere. For our #PizzaFridays, we can't do without their pizza pepperoni--a larger variety perfect for snacking, also. The mild Italian sausage is amazing, of course, but be sure to also try the new chicken varieties! Many times, they'll have items to sample.  The deli case offers sandwiches, antipasto options such as olives, pasta salads and more.  You can seriously drool for at least 10 minutes.  On the back wall, past the deli you can find take-home meals in small and large sizes.  The lasagna is SO good.

#GBRusso, Grand Rapids, #GRMI, #PureMichigan, Grand Rapids local stores, Italian market Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Wine
I love to look at the bulk spice area on the back wall.  You can find chili flakes, fennel and anything else you might be looking for.  I like to put the bulk spices in mini labeled mason jars and store them in our pantry.
#GBRusso, Grand Rapids, #GRMI, #PureMichigan, Grand Rapids local stores, Italian market Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Wine

The other aisles offer a variety of specialty items. We have our go-to items that we always grab: Pastorelli's Pizza Sauce is the BEST! Right now they have a 99¢ pasta sale with hard-to-find shapes like orzo, ditalini, mini stars and more. I stocked up our pantry for upcoming soup season!

Aside from the tried and true items Russo's always has available, they also frequently have new products to try.  Last trip, I spotted this Chicago Mix popcorn by G.H. Cretors that night. It was THAT good! Even our new pug Leia was begging for some! I also saw some quinoa chips which will be perfect for our next beach day.

Looking for a gift?  Check out the housewares area! During their anniversary party, I won a gift basket and the pie pan that was in there is the BEST--it's a bit larger than normal and it has a metal crust protector. I'll be sure to share a photo next time I make pot pie!

Keep in touch with G.B. Russo & Son on social media:

#GBRusso, Grand Rapids, #GRMI, #PureMichigan, Grand Rapids local stores, Italian market Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Wine

Stay tuned...tomorrow I'll be sharing Ricky's Chicken Marsala recipe made from items we bought at Russo's.  I had a health scare last week and he's been cooking up a storm for me.  I can't believe he's sharing this recipe!

Have you ever shopped at Russo's? What's your favorite thing to buy?

Mmmm Mondays: Spicy Nacho Burger

July 20, 2015

Lauras Lean Beef, Red Gold Tomatoes, Burger, Grilling, Spice, Jalapenos, Salsa, Mexican

Can you say "nacho" without replying "naCHO cheese!!"? I thought I might outgrow that phrase, but it never ceases to make me smile.

BBQ Favorites: Slow-Cooker Country Style Ribs

July 19, 2015


Being honest, I really don't like ribs. It's about the bones--I hate gnawing away feeling like a caveman. Ricky and Olivia, on the other hand, love ribs and wings. I've had to leave the room while Olivia was eating because she grossed me out so much!

I accidentally bought Country Style ribs once thinking it was a roast (hey....I was shopping with kids) and they have been our favorite ever since.  They're cheap, too! I put a quick rub on, squirt some mustard on them and let the meat slow cook   When it's time for dinner, just throw them on the grill with some BBQ sauce.