Guest post on ยป Dog Brownie

After cleaning out the junk room, I came across an old issue of Martha Stewart Kids from 2006. There is an adorable brownie/blondie dessert featured in it — a large platter of blondies (non-chocolate brownies) on top of a large platter of regular brownies with a Scotty dog cut-out of each, transposed to make a great presentation…  behold!


I figured I could do the same with a French bulldog cut-out.

My first misstep was baking the brownies too long — they were pretty charred. however, since I would be cutting out the middle in a dog shape, I figured it wouldn’t be too bad.

Next step — baking the blondies. I am a convenience-cook so whipping up a batch on blondies was out of the question. I figured corn bread would be a sufficient substitue (kind of the same consistency, right?) but my husband blanched at that idea. So I decided to use yellow cake mix – a treat no one in our house can refuse.

But me, the ever-multi-tasking mom, decided to roast some eggplant the same time I was baking the yellow cake — the result? The cake was severely undercooked. (as in runny middle – belch).

In the words of Project Runway’s Tim Gunn, I was determined to “make it work” — so as I attempted to cut out a half-baked cake into the shape of a French Bulldog, I started thinking — hmmm… maybe I should have googled a blondie recipe after all.

So, the result is far from perfect — we have pieces of an undone salmonella yellow cake shoved into the brownie dog cut-out. I didn’t even bother making a cute collar and instead used raisins (what could be more vile?) So, BEHOLD — Dog Brownie Fail!


The side-by-side comparison doesn’t help matters at all. Maybe I will nail it next time.


Besides Liz’s culinary fails, you can check out her parenting fails vis-a-vis the crying photos of her kids on



Guest post on >> Storytelling projects

Find Inspiration at the San Diego Children’s Film Festival

This blog entry is brought to you by Estern Media.

Get Your Kids’ Creative Juices Flowing with Easy Storytelling Projects

Imagine…. A package of ground beef tries one last attempt to escape before being eaten. A young boy faces off with his parents as they force him to eat beets. The offspring of a chicken robot and a human robot knows he is “different.”

What on earth do these things have to do with the San Diego Bargain Mama, you might ask? These stories are just three of the more than 150 animated, live-action and documentary films that will be screened during the 6th Annual San Diego International Children’s Film Festival beginning this Friday, July 24 through August 16 at locations throughout San Diego (including Balboa Park, the Convention Center, and a newly added North County location.) Besides exposing your kids to culture, most of the screenings are FREE to the public so there is no excuse not to check it out. Check the festival’s site  for the latest schedules and locations.

To get your own kids excited about filmmaking and storytelling, here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing:            


Filmmaking – There are some great resources online for helping your older kids become mini-Stephen Spielberg’s. Try Film Street  as a good place to get started with tips and a place to even post your first film!

Storyboards – For younger kids, it’s just as fun to conceive an imaginative story and have it come to life on paper. In car rides with my 3-year old, we’ll invent a story together – I’ll have him supply the details while I add things to keep the plot moving. For example:

 Mom: Once upon a time, there was a shiny robot named….
 Kid: …Henry. And he his best friend was named, KK!
 Mom: Henry and KK were the best of friends. Their favorite thing to do was…
 Kid: …to play hide-and-seek!
 Mom: One day, something awful happened!
 Kid: KK got lost!
 Mom: So Henry had to find her. What did he do??

The story goes on and eventually (um—hopefully!) ends. When we get home, I’ll have my son draw “Henry” and “KK” and things that happened in the story. Here’s a great template to help with the storyboard. 

Autobiography – Younger kids and older ones, too, will have fun creating a story about their favorite subject – themselves! Try some of these story starters to develop either a short autobiographical film clip (with a movie camera or video-enabled digital camera) OR book with photos of the “star”.

I only do projects that a simple, fast, and easy. Here is the 4-page book my son and I created – I interviewed him, wrote in the answers, and had him draw in some details to make this really easy book. Since the whole project took about 15 minutes, we’ll do another update in a few months when the mood strikes.

Enjoy the San Diego Children’s Film Festival and have fun creating your own stories – and memories – with your kids!

Liz Philips  is a sleep-deprived, iced-tea addicted San Diego mom of two young boys. She works in marketing for a high-tech company and on the side she keeps a fun blog, called; photos of sad/mad/bad and completely adorable kids.



Guest post on >> Sandcastle crafts

Kid Activities in Honor of San Diego’s 29th Annual US Open Sandcastle Competition

This blog entry is brought to you by Bounty – Clean the Mess for Less!

The largest sandcastle building competition  in the country is being hosted in Imperial Beach this weekend, July 18 and 19. On Saturday, families can enjoy a kids’ competition and street festival and on Sunday, the masters of sand will be at work all day starting at 9 a.m,; winners are announced at 2 p.m. and the elaborate sand creations will be available for viewing until 4 p.m’s tide comes in.            

In honor of the 29-year competition, we’ve come up with some easy and fun sand activities for the kids and you to do at home.

Sand Art


Glue. Paper. Sand. – It’s pretty easy to please little kids! Give your child a paintbrush to apply glue to paper (it’s easier than having them squeeze a bottle) and then sprinkle on sand to create a textured picture, as described in this project.  

For a fancier look, color the sand first. I found some instructions online, but here’s an even easier way: simply add a few drops of food coloring directly to dry sand and stir to evenly distribute the color.

Since sand is either free (think beach, sandbox) or cheap (a 50-lb bag of play sand at Home Depot is less then $5), using colored sand in place of glitter for projects is a great money-saver and a little easier to clean up.

BONUS PROJECT: Get your little ones to help clean up by pouring the leftover colored sand (in layers) into a clear bottle or jar. I fashioned a funnel out of a paper plate to make the job easier.


Sand Dough – I found several recipes online for making sand more stable so that you could preserve a
sandcastle creation. For my recipe, I used 3 c. of sand, 2 c. cornstarch, and 2 c. of water – you simply heat everything up in a large pot over medium heat until the mixture becomes dough-like and difficult to stir. The result – sand playdough!

Constructing an actual sandcastle was a little too ambitious for me and my 3-year old, so we opted for “sand stars” – we pressed the dough flat with our hands and used a cookie cutter to cut out stars. After the stars are dry, we might even paint them for fun.

Sand Castles – For those of you with older kids, check out these excellent resources for building the perfect sand castle at the beach. This article provides good sandcastle inspiration and this article gives 9 tips for building great sandcastles.

With some practice, we’ll plan on seeing you and your kids at next year’s sandcastle building competition!

Liz Philips is a sleep-deprived, iced-tea addicted San Diego mom of two young boys. She works in marketing at HP and on the side she keeps a fun blog, called photos of sad/mad/bad and completely adorable kids.

Check out some SDBM favorite Seasonal Events this month and a calendar of fun in the San Diego, too!

Need to start writing for Stacey again — makes me do fun crafty stuff for my kids!

Guest post on >> Bug crafts

Eat Bugs at Quail Botanical Gardens

SD Bug Invasion & 3 Easy Bug Crafts for Kids

Introducing SDBM’s guest blogger, Liz Philips:

Have you ever eaten a bug? If not, you’ll have a chance this weekend at Quail Botanical Garden’s  annual Insect Festival July 11 and 12 in Encinitas. In addition to sampling bugs, you and your family can learn about bees, pests, and other creepy-crawlies – best of all, kids 12 & under are free.

To help complement your trip, here are some easy and affordable bug activities to do with your little ones:


This easy-to-make caterpillar takes no time at all – you only need some paints, paper plates, and a stapler. My 3 year-old and toddler each made his own bug in just minutes while I was getting dinner ready.    

To get up close and personal with nature in your own backyard, this moth feeder is a cinch – just soak some cotton balls in fruit juice and sugar – then hang the cotton balls near an outdoor light to observe the winged creatures.     


Finally, older kids might like this project (click on link) that is educational, to boot – make a water walker bug out of a piece of cardboard and pipe cleaners to demonstrate how some lightweight bugs can actually walk on water.

Have fun this summer and let me know how those bug taste this weekend!

Liz Philips is a sleep-deprived, iced-tea addicted San Diego mom of two young boys. She works in marketing at HP and on the side she keeps a fun blog, called photos of sad/mad/bad and completely adorable kids.

Check out some SDBM favorite Seasonal Events this month and a calendar of fun for the city of San Diego, too!