Homemade Dinosaur Tortilla Chips

Making tortilla chips at home is a relatively simple, yet somewhat time consuming endeavor.  Anyone who tells you differently is lying.  The reality of the situation is that you can purchase tortilla chips that are completely adequate for holding toppings at Costco for close to what it would cost to make your own.

Why would anyone take the time to make tortilla chips?

Dinosaur Chips

Dinosaur Chips

To get Dinosaur Chips, of course!!

My Little Man loves dinosaurs and nachos.  Combine his two loves and get dinachos!

Here is a quick tutorial on how to make tortilla chips into fun shapes:


Grab some corn tortillas from the grocery store.  Don’t get the weird gluten free, no calorie, organic, raw corn tortillas.  They don’t cook up well.  Also grab a large cookie cutter.  We have a set of large dinosaur cutters that I use for cookies, sandwiches, and other random things that need to be shaped like a dinosaur.

I use the following method for cutting out tortillas:


Place the tortilla over the cookie cutter.


Use a rolling pin to get enough pressure to cut the tortilla.  Tortillas are tough little buggers.






Excuse the poor photography…



When all of your dinosaurs are cut out, fry the tortillas up in oil (I use canola) at 350 for 2-3 minutes or until lightly golden.  They will get a little darker after removed from the oil.  I have a little deep fryer, but a pan with a few inches of oil would work just fine.

Avoid crowding the pan to ensure the dinosaurs are wrinkle free!

Drain them on paper towels and lightly salt before storing them in Ziplocs for later use.

I fry up all the scraps of tortilla when I am done with the dinosaurs.  As a special treat (for myself!), I will toss them with cinnamon sugar.



Chips cut into special shapes are great as a treat for kids, but would also be a nice addition to a themed party!


A Gorgeous New Fire Pit

Fire Pit Fire Ring DIY Do It Yourself Construction

DIY Fire Pit

Husband recently took a couple days off of his job to engage in heavy manual labor around the house.  Most epic of his labors was the building of our fire pit.  This is not a DIY for anyone who isn’t comfortable lifting heavy objects or really big projects.  But, for Husband, this was a labor of love.

I take no credit for this project as I did nothing more than squirt a few lines of adhesive one night.  Getting the contractor adhesive out of the massive caulk gun was a challenge for me and I threw in the towel pretty quickly.

Don’t judge, it was really thick and sticky.

The biggest challenge of this project was the massive amount of heavy materials needed.  The blocks were about 10-20 lbs each, and there were 150 of them total.  The driver who delivered our gravel indicated that the total weight was close to 6 tons.  If you aren’t big and strapping, this whole thing could take a very, very long time.  Consider yourself warned.

Husband chose to dig out a portion of our backyard.  Our pit sits in a little clearing in our yard.  The fire ring is 4 feet in diameter and the total area is about 12 feet.  Husband removed the sod and some dirt to accommodate three inches of gravel for the main area of the ring and an extra three inches for the fire pit.  There was a large, level circle at three inches below the lawn and an inner circle that was an additional three inches below the larger circle.

When completing a task like this, it is really important to level everything, all the time.  The inner circle must be level, the outer circle must be level, all of the blocks that are set must be level.  Level, level, level!!!  The picture below shows the inner ring after it was filled with a layer of gravel because it’s hard to tell the difference in the levels of the two areas when there isn’t any contrast!

Fire Ring Construction

The fire ring was built first.  It was constructed with landscaping blocks (without a lip) and refractory cement.

Landscape Blocks, Fire Pit, Fire Ring, DIY, Do It Yourself, Garden

Blocks for Fire Ring. No Lip.

Husband used a couple Youtube videos and a little common sense to figure out how to put everything together.  Some of the videos suggested excavating the lawn, some recommended gravel, some suggested adhesive, some suggested sand.  We decided to be thorough and do it all.  A base of gravel was laid and tamped down in the deeper hole for the fire ring.  In a circle, where the blocks would sit, a base of sand was laid, tamped, and leveled.  Finally, refractory cement was used as an adhesive.  Husband said the refractory cement was truly awful to work with, but it is specifically made to adhere blocks together in high heat situations, like a fire pit.

Leveled Gravel and Sand Provide the Base

Leveled Gravel and Sand Provide the Base

Each block and the whole ring was leveled.

Fire Ring, Fire Pit, DIY, Do It Yourself, Construction

Each Block was Leveled

As the courses were built up, Husband was sure to leave some gaps in the blocks to allow proper air flow to the fire.

DIY Do It Yourself Fire Pit Fire Ring Building Landscape

Notice the Slight Gaps in the Blocks

Completed Fire Ring

Completed Fire Ring

After the ring was completed, the retaining wall is constructed of basic retaining wall blocks.

Retaining Wall Blocks

Retaining Wall Blocks. Lip.

To help keep the first course level, we put up a masonry line, which is a level line to use as a guide.  After we put out the line, we spray painted it onto the dirt behind the blocks.

A Masonry Line Will Help Keep Everything Level

A Masonry Line Will Help Keep Everything Level

The blocks were placed on a base of sand that was leveled and tamped down, much like the fire ring.  Each block was also leveled as it was set down and lightly tapped into place.

Retaining Wall DIY Do It Yourself Construction Fire Pit Fire Ring Landscape

Level and Tap Each Block Into Place

Each block was adhered to the two blocks below it with two strips of contractor adhesive.  I don’t have a picture of this and it isn’t necessary, but we anticipated kids climbing on the wall and adults sitting on it, so we added the adhesive for extra security.  After each course was set, the area between the blocks and the soil was back filled with gravel.  Be sure to back fill with gravel after each course is set to ensure proper drainage.

Back Fill with Gravel

Back Fill with Gravel

As you can see from the photos, we only used a maximum of four courses of blocks, so we were able to get away without using any special landscape fabric or drainage holes or anything like that (whew).  If you have a higher wall, follow the instructions on wall construction from your block supplier or manufacturer.

Short Retaining Wall Construction Do It Yourself Fire Pit Fire Ring

Four Courses of Blocks

After the wall was completed, the entire area was tamped well and leveled.

The Hand Tamper - Husband's Least Favorite Tool!

The Hand Tamper – Husband’s Least Favorite Tool!

To finish everything off, 3 inches of gravel was added to the entire area.  It was tamped again.

Fire Pit Complete

Fire Pit Complete

If you look closely, you can see that Husband used some extra blocks to create a little entrance to the ring.  I think it looks beautiful!

No Sew Swiffer Wet Jet Homemade Pad

Here is my Swiffer Wet Jet hack.  You could either take this as being ingenious and will be totally impressed or you will read this and just be floored by how lazy I am.  Either way, it works well enough that my husband is no longer complaining that I won’t but new Swiffer pads.

First, if you have a Swiffer Wet Jet, there is no reason to buy new refills.  If you boil an empty Swiffer bottle cap side down for about 5 minutes the cap will twist right off.  Grip the piping hot bottle with a oven mitt or heat proof pad to avoid singeing your fingers and voila!  It comes off without a struggle.  I refill with diluted Pine-Sol, but you can refill it with whatever floor cleaner you want.

Second, instead buying the pads, microfiber cleaning clothes work miracles on every type of surface.  I have seen plenty of tutorials on cutting clothes to fit the Swiffer.  The microfiber clothes will stick to the Velcro on the Swiffer without any extra work but most clothes are too large and will trail behind the Swiffer, making it difficult to mop without everything getting wrinkly and lumped up.  So lame.

Ugh!  Extra Cloth Just Gets in the Way!

Ugh! Extra Cloth Just Gets in the Way!

You could either cut the clothes to fit the Swiffer and sew a hem to keep them from unraveling (which is a lot of work) or you could do this:

No Sew Swiffer Wet Jet pad

Genius I tell you.  Slip a rubber band over the Swiffer and stuff the extra cloth under it.

A Simple Rubber Band Does the Trick!

A Simple Rubber Band Does the Trick!

It stays out of the way – no need for sewing and cutting!

Swiffer Wet Jet Microfiber Homemade Cloth Pad

So easy.

Linked up at Thrifty Thursday, Fabulously Frugal, and Think Tank Thursday!

Homemade Marinara Recipe

I love marinara.  Love, Love, Love.

On pizza, french fries, baked potatoes, pasta, and just about everything else it’s amazing.

I am willing to put in a couple minutes chopping to make the perfect sauce.  (By “a couple minutes chopping” I mean pushing the button on my food processor.)  

Life can be so hard.

Where to begin…

How about with some fresh basil, garlic and olive oil?

To make things cheaper and easier, I buy large packages of fresh basil and process them in my handy food processor with garlic cloves and olive oil.

Read Basil + Garlic + Olive Oil = Yum for more information.

Basil, Olive Oil, Garlic

A great marinara requires sloooowwwww cooking.  With a toodler runnning around, tending the stove like an Italian grandmother isn’t practical.  Thank goodness for crock pots.

Every time I write about a crock pot and forget to add in a space, my computer wants to change it to crackpots.  I think it’s trying to tell me something.  

I use the basic recipe from Mom on a Mission (which is the most amazing blog).  I say basic because I am too lazy too accomplished in the kitchen to be bothered with measuring or extra onion chopping.

Into the crock pot goes roughly 90-100 ounces of crushed/diced/sauced tomatoes.  If I have been to Costco, I’ll use a #10 can.  If not, I’ll use whatever collection of tomatoes I have in the pantry.  Honestly, my favorite sauce is made from generic Fred Meyer crushed tomatoes.

Then I add in my basil/oil/garlic mixture (1 cup basil, 8 garlic cloves, 1/4 cup olive oil).  Chopped up in the food processor.

Next comes some onion powder (about 1 tbsp.), some salt (about 1.5 tsp), and a sprinkle of pepper (about 1/2 tsp).

Cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Stir occasionally.  If you cook it longer, it could burn.  Trust me.

If the taste of this over some spaghetti doesn’t curl your toes, you need to go visit a doctor because your taste buds might be dead!

Marinara with fresh basil in a crockpot

Some of the sauce gets used for dinner.  Some goes on pizzas.  Some goes in the freezer.


Easy Crockpot Marinara

– 90-100 oz Canned Tomatoes (diced, crushed, or sauce)

– 1 cup Fresh Basil Leaves

– 8 Garlic Cloves

– 1/4 cup Olive Oil

– 1 tbsp Onion Powder

– 1.5 tsp Salt

– 1/2 tsp Black Pepper (substitute Cayenne for an extra kick)

1.  Pulse Garlic, Basil, and Olive Oil in the food processor until chopped.

2.  Add Garlic mixture, Tomatoes, Salt, Pepper, and Onion Powder to crockpot.

3.  Cook on low for 5-6 hours.


Linked to Thrifty Thrusday at Living Well Spending Less



Basil + Garlic + Olive Oil = Yum

Every few months, I will buy a package of fresh basil.  I love fresh basil.  But, honestly, who can eat more than a few leaves at a time?  To make sure none of the fresh herb goes to waste, I will take a moment to process that basil to prepare it for future marinara use.

After stripping and rinsing all the leaves, it is a simple task to drop them in the food processor with a few cloves of garlic and some olive oil.

First, measure the basil.  Then calculate (yes, using math) the amount of oil and garlic you need.


In this instance, I had 2 cups of fresh basil.  My favorite marinara recipe uses about 1/4 cup of olive oil and 6 garlic cloves per cup of basil.  So, I added .5 cups olive oil and 12 garlic cloves for 2 cups of basil.

1c Basil/.25c oil = 2c Basil/x.  Just solve for x.  Thank goodness for algebra.

Basil, Olive Oil, Garlic

Everything into the food processor.  Process until the garlic and basil are chopped, of course.

Basil, Olive Oil, and Garlic Processed


If you are going to use my favorite marinara recipe adapted from Mom on a Mission, divide based on the number of cups of basil.  In this case, there were 2 cups of basil in my processor, so I divided it into 2 equal portions.

One half went to make marinara right away.  The other went into the FREEZER.

When you add garlic to olive oil, you MUST freeze, cook, or eat immediately.  DO NOT just stick it in your refrigerator for later use.

Garlic + Olive Oil + Basil + Freezer= Yum.

Garlic + Olive Oil + Basil + Time in the fridge = Botulism Poisoning!

Seriously.  Freeze, Eat, or Cook.

If you freeze, then the next time you want to make some marinara, you have half of the ingredients all ready to go!

Ombre Butterfly Art

Our newest addition is a girl!  She’s an amazing little one with a big personality and bigger lungs.  To pretty up the nursery, I created two ombré butterfly pictures.  The first featured blue to pink butterflies and the second was blue to yellow:

Butterfly pink-blue

Making these is pretty easy.

First, collect paint chips in your chosen color palette.  I chose to focus one frame on a blue to pink color scheme and the other on a blue to yellow color scheme.  You could choose to go light to dark in one color or use the full rainbow.  There really is no wrong way to do this.  I picked up paint chips from local hardware stores over the course of a few weeks.

Next, find a nice calm morning and collect  your supplies – a butterfly punch, double-sided tape, and poster board.


Use the punch on the paint chips to create lots and lots of butterflies.

Arrange the butterflies however you want.  Be sure to make the arrangement prior to applying them to the paper with tape.  When you are happy with your placement of the entire picture, use the tape to adhere the butterflies down, working from one side of the picture to the other.

Arrange Butterflies

I allowed the butterflies to hang over the edges of the poster board and then cropped them off when I was finished.


Pop the whole thing into a frame and enjoy!!

Butterfly blue-green