Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Easter Table Decor

This year we went for simple and easy for the Easter Table.
Easter is always a tricky holiday in our family.
Trying to squeeze in the morning egg and basket hunt, getting ready for church, then coming home with hardly enough time to put the holiday meal on the table...while still trying to make it festive, keep it tidy for the coming guests, and prepare for the afternoon egg hunt outside.
So I am always looking for ways to make this day a touch easier and I started with the table setting.

We had white table linens with burlap overlays. Candles and wood crates for centerpieces. And the place settings were a simple page from a book with a DOLLAR STORE decoration at each.
Simple, clean and quick.
I should have taken better pictures, but in the rush of the day, I hardly got any.
Happy Easter!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How to Patch Jeans

Patching Jeans is easy. You don't have to have any great sewing skills either.

My two little boys & somehow my husband all get holes in their jeans. These jeans got this hole in less than three days!  I wasn't thrilled. And they are even nice thick quality.
So instead of constantly buying more jeans, I patch them up. 
It is fast... about five minutes and easy.

To patch jeans you need a scrap of Jean material large enough to cover the hole AND the "weak" area around the hole.

Also, thread to match the jeans you are stitching on. (my thread looks white in these pictures, but it is a matching denim color)

Cut the appropriate size of jean scrap & place it underneath the hole, on the inside of the jeans.

Pin to secure.
(If jeans are stretchy, pin extra well.)

Using sewing machine. Sew forward and backwards (reverse) over and over until all areas of the hole are covered.

Your stitching should cover more than just the hole.  Stitch past it on all sides, because the area around the hole is weak and prone to ripping.

As you can see the stitching is far from perfect, but it really doesn't matter.
When I looked at my name brand jeans that come with "patched holes" their stitching is also imperfect.

*These jeans were little boy super skinny jeans,
so fitting it into the sewing machine was a HUGE struggle.
I had to scrunch it really tight, so you can see a better example of proper stitching on the bottom jeans pictured.  I had a little more room to work with those than the first.

So in the future try patching your jeans.  It saves money...and the lifespan of the jeans.
With little boys, it has saved me so much.  And the patches last as I pass the jeans down.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Getting Kids Excited to Read: Read Everyday Jar

Summer Reading Ideas

Whether your child loves to read or avoids is an easy way to encourage daily reading.

A Reading Jar.  It's full of simple ideas for making reading fun. Pull out a slip each day to find a fun place or way to read. They might read in the shade, under the table, wearing a hat, eating a snack or with mom...all kinds of little ways to excite them to read each day.

Read Everyday Jar
3 printable pages of ideas.
Reading Printables here.
Print, cut and fill up the jar.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Scotcharoos: Chocolate Butterscotch Bars

These are a crowd pleaser.
One of my very favorites and the best part...they are quick and easy.

My husband grew up with Scotcharoo's and introduced me to them a few years back.
Oh, they are good. The chocolate with the butterscotch is a perfect match.

1 cup Peanut Butter
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Light Corn Syrup
6 cups Rice Krispies
1 bag Milk Chocolate Chips
1 bag Butterscotch Chips

Grease a 13x9 inch pan. In saucepan bring sugar & corn syrup to boil. Then add peanut butter. Stir until melted. Then remove from heat. Combine with 6 c. Rice Krispies (I like to have these pre-measured in a large mixing bowl.  Then I pour the hot sugar mixture over the Rice Krispies). Spread and press mixture into 13x9 pan. Melt bags of chocolate and butterscotch chips together in microwave about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, depending on microwave.  Heat until just melted. Stir then spread over Rice Krispie mixture. Cool in Fridge.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pregnancy: Battling Morning Sickness

Battling Morning Sickness

Morning Sickness. I don't even know why they call it "Morning" sickness, because I know I'm not alone when I say it is Afternoon, Evening, & all Night long sickness as well.

Pregnancy is an exciting time...but the nausea really puts a damper on the situation.

For me Morning Sickness, is one of the hardest parts of pregnancy.  It gets old so fast.  But in the attempts to find a cure and make the best of it.  Here are some tips and tricks I have found through my last two and my current pregnancy.  BUT since pregnancy is so different for everyone and even for each pregnancy...please give me any ideas you might have.  As none of these have solved ALL of my problems.  And there is the alternative of a prescription.  Which I will discuss more below.

Things that help EASE the Nausea:
-Preggo Pops

-Sucking on Mints
-Flavored Water
-Sucking on Hard Candy
-Mint/Peppermint Gum
-Tea (Especially Peppermint or Fennel)

If none of these or any other great ideas you have found work, there is always the option of a prescription.  With my current pregnancy as well as my last I have had to resort to a prescription for different periods of the pregnancy.  Personally, I try to avoid them.  It is always a little nerve racking taking medication when pregnant and I don't always like the side effects.  But if you do end up needing a prescription, I definitely suggest finding one that DISSOLVES in your mouth/under your tongue.  I find them much easier to take and more effective.  Too many times, I just found myself throwing up the pill I just swallowed.  So dissolvable tablets saved me!

Another random trick, but it really works for me....Mentholatum!
I use a generic Mentholatum Ointment as "Chapstick" on my lips.  The smell totally calms my stomach.  Random I know.  It also keeps me from smelling the random unwanted smells that make me nauseous. Plus, Pregnancy is known to cause congestion/stuffy nose and this clears me up immediately.  A little moisture on my lips is an added bonus.
(TIP: Vick's Brand, says not to use on chapped lips, so look for a brand that specifies.  Mine was Walgreens brand and says it is for chapped lips and chapped skin.)

For Meals & Snacks...
I say, go with what your stomach tells you.
But there is always the fall back plan of: Crackers, Fruit, or good old fashioned Peanut Butter & Jelly.

I find the trick is to eat in small portions and sip drinks throughout day. Too much water or food can trigger the gag reflex.

And of course, Plenty of Sleep!
A rested body can make such a difference.

Well, this is what works for me.  Or at least works has worked for me at some point, depending on each pregnancy...But, what works for you.  I could really use any suggestions!

More to come on Maternity and Preparing for a new Baby!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cleaning 101 Series: Kick Off

Cleaning 101

There was a time I considered myself to be a clean freak.  Sometimes a little OCD.  I credit my mother, who was very clean and literally vacuumed herself out of the room after tucking us in at we could walk onto fresh carpet.

Personally, I feel better, think more clearly, and am so much more productive and happy when my house is clean.  But I know not everyone is that way and I also have learned, since having children, that I have to find a balance.

 So after several years of trial and error...I have a cleaning schedule and plan that works great for me...hopefully it can help you too.

Here is the Basic Break Down:

Daily Quick Clean: (20 minutes tops)
A Weekly Cleaning Day: (2 hours)
Monthly/Spring Cleaning Duties Day: (1-2 hours)

Daily Quick Clean:
I do a "Quick Clean" every day that last AT MOST 20 minutes.  Usually it takes me 10 minutes.
This includes making beds, picking up, and a simple wipe down of surfaces, etc.
I have a routine, and once I got the routine down I can do it in 10 minutes.

1. I begin in my room: Make bed, pick up & put away clothing etc.
2. Bathrooms: Put away items, wipe down counters, sink, and toilet.
This is a QUICK wipe with a disposable Clorox Wipe.
3. Living Spaces: Pick Up & Put Away items. Wipe down kitchen counters & Table.

Staying on top of this daily, keeps the house under control and tidy.  AND makes Cleaning Day easier.
*ALSO, this keeps the house tidy for those unexpected visits from friends or neighbors.

Cleaning Day: 
 I have one day a week that is my CLEANING DAY. For me it is Friday.  We usually entertain on the weekends, so I like the house to be freshly cleaned.  This "day" isn't a whole day, it actually totals 2 hours of cleaning. That is not a lot, but I can get a TON done. I work fast, use a timer, and have a routine.
1. Scrub Bathrooms
2. Scrub Kitchen
3. Dust
4. Vacuum & Mop Floors
 I will go into "cleaning details" further posts of this series.

Monthly Cleaning:
Each week, I rotate through a "Spring Cleaning" project totaling 1-2 hours.  Depending on my week I may tack it on to my cleaning day, or Do it another day.  
These jobs include anything from cleaning appliances, vacuuming the couches, washing windows, etc. Tasks that don't need to be done each week (or maybe I should say, in reality, I can't accomplish each week). I rotate through them, so that I don't have to have a huge Spring Cleaning.  I like staying on top of it.  It keeps the house clean and my job easier to handle.

Cleaning 101 Series:
So Throughout this Cleaning 101 Series I will break down the routine, how to clean, cleaning tips, kid's chores, and so much more.  To follow all of the posts in the Cleaning 101 Series I will continually link them below.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Budgeting 101: You Can Do More

Want to read about the rest of the Budgeting 101 Series? Find it: HERE.

Budgeting 101: Class 10

Best  Advice/You can Do More
You Can Do More:
Looking for more ways to save?
Shop: Garage Sales, 2nd Hand Stores, Craigslist

Want to Bring in some extra Money?
Sell stuff on: Craig’s List or local classifieds like KSL, Facebook, Etsy, Amazon,, Garage Sale
Build your Blog to make money
Babysit/ Daycare/ Preschool
Yard Work Maintenance
Clean Houses
Walk Dogs/Pet Sit
Earn Online Points: such as Points 2 Shop

Spend less than you Make
Learn to live off of one income
Pay Yourself a Car you can buy with cash
Stick to your budget
Avoid Credit

Monday, April 29, 2013

Budgeting 101: Food Budget Trouble Zones

Want to read about the rest of the Budgeting 101 Series? Find it: HERE.

Budgeting 101: Class 9
Want to cut your grocery budget and save money?
Tips and Tricks for stretching your money.

Food Budgeting Trouble Zones:
It's important to know where your Trouble Zones are, because once you recognize them, you can find ways to avoid and improve them.

Most of the Main Trouble Areas in a food budget come from:

Not keeping track of spending & budget
Lack of self discipline, whether small or large

So here are some of the common Trouble Areas:

(Little by little it adds up. I wont lie...I don't always sick to my list, but that doesn't make it right.  AND I constantly am aware of the room in my budget, to keep from over spending.)

(This is a big one, and makes some of the biggest budget problems.  A little planning goes a long way.  Less impulse buying, less expensive convenience purchases, less waste of food going bad, less last minute runs to the store, etc. Meal planning really does save money!)

(This seems minor, but the more you shop the more likely you are to buy "extra" things.  It seems small but all of those little things add up.  Plan ahead and try to shop once every two weeks.)

(This is a killer.  Everything looks good and when you're hungry, your self discipline is weak.)

(Anything from: the extra food needed, to more expensive cuts of meat...these quickly add to or break the budget. Entertaining, Holidays, etc. all are great...believe me, I love both, so planning ahead and budgeting appropriately can make this work without breaking the budget.)

(New Recipes can push the budget, whether they need new ingredients you don't normally purchase or worse, they are a flop...wasting the ingredients and the money. This doesn't mean don't try new recipes, but definitely look into them, their cost and plan appropriately.)

(Stores are there to make money. Understand store set up…and how they can fool you. Just because items are in the aisle or on the end caps with fancy signs, doesn't mean they are a great price. Stores place foods and treats by the checkout stands, and right as you enter the store.  They know what will sell and encourage impulsive purchases.)

Take a little time to plan and you can save lots of money on groceries each month, while still eating well!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Budgeting 101: How We Save Money

Want to read about the rest of the Budgeting 101 Series? Find it: HERE.

How We Save Money
Budgeting 101: Class 8

Saving money isn't just on food.  Although Food and Household needs add up quickly, anywhere you can find to cut back or save a bit helps a lot in the long run.

Thankfully, my husband has a great job, and most of these little penny pinching strategies we don't actually need to do... but that doesn't mean we need to live up to our full paycheck.  And it also doesn't mean that saving money and living on a budget lower your quality of life.  In fact, we have gone through many different stages of spending and I am so much happier when we are on a budget.

So I compiled a list of all the little things I could think of that our family does to save money.

How We Save Money:

We Never buy on credit (other than a home)... if we don’t have the money we save for it.

We Don't pay for Cable or Dish Network. We have Basic Channels and Netflix.

We Don't have Spendy Cell Phone & Plans (We have data and text, but we share minutes and buy the phones you can get free with you plan.)

We buy Off Brand
Many food items, household & cleaning items, hygiene products, etc. we buy off brand. Very few things do I notice a difference between the brands... But I do have some things I will buy name brand like, Saran Wrap.
When we do buy name brands I look for sales, coupons, etc. Most everything we wear is a sale item or clearance item.  The more you save, the more you can buy.

We avoid Fast Food
This also includes drinks.  We avoid fast food and never buy soft drinks. Both of these aren’t healthy and the cost adds up quickly.  As we have cut back it also is now a reward to our kids instead of an expectation.  And Happy Meals are for a “kid date” or special occasion/reward.  

-We watch our “energy” to cut back on Utilities. Keep the thermostat a degree cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer.
-Open blinds to let the sun naturally warm up the house, then close them in the evening to keep the heat in.  Grab an extra blanket and wear slippers.
-Turn the water off as you brush your teeth, wash laundry only when you have a full load, etc.  All the little things add up.
-More Energy Saving Tips Found: Here

Are there times we do big exciting entertainment?  Yes…but more often we have found cutting back is just as fun and then the big events are even more of a special occasion.

 Restaurants- We don’t have to live it up big, to have a great time.  Olive Garden, PF Chang’s, Cheesecake Factory our the “high end” restaurants we now go to.  And we are still having just as much fun as we did before we cut back. We also enjoy grabing In-N-Out for part of our date night…it is less of where we eat, but more of liking the food and enjoying the company.

 Movies- We don’t go to the Movies as often, and if we do, we try to buy theater tickets on discounted sales like Groupon, or go to Dollar Movies, the Drive Ins…or wait for it to come on Redbox and Netflix.

Other- Use coupons, Groupon, etc to find deals on entertainment.
Entertain at home.  Invite friends over…instead of always going out, make it a fun night in.
Trade babysitting with neighbors…and plan some dates “at home” after the kids go to bed.

Although I LOVE decorating,  I have learned to work on a tight budget.  I garage sale, shop Craig’s List, KSL, Second Hand, and Clearance.  We haven’t bought new furniture for our home, with exception to my living room couches and still only because we found a better close out deal on them then I could second hand.  And our furniture still looks great and is in style.

Over all my philosophy with kid and baby stuff is: less is more.  And even though I try to be a minimalist, somehow we always have toys over flowing, and more clothes than we need.

Baby items- after the baby showers….garage sales are my next stop and 2nd hand consignment stores or craigslist.  Lots of people sell things that are in great condition.
I also buy store brand diapers from Walmart and Target, or on great deals through Amazon.

Toys- from holidays, gifts, and “rewards” they have more than plenty and my kids really don’t need more, but garage sales are AMAZING for toys!  So I find we end up getting more than I ever planned on and I spend very little money. And these garage sale finds can still be used for rewards and gifts.

Clothing: We have been blessed with cute hand-me-downs, but I also buy a ton on clearance.  The Children’s Place has great sales, Target, and so many more stores.  Personally I find clearance items to be a better buy than second hand stores.  But that could be where I live, with tons of kids around things seem very picked over.
I take the extra effort to clean, patch holes, and hand down cloths between my kids. I still end up buying some new clothes, but only a few and it saves a lot of money.

Kid's Rewards and Responsibilities- I also, don't buy my kids toys and treats at the store.  Well, I do, but they don't get them just because I found them...they have to earn them. This has helped us cut back, because our kids no longer "ask" for everything they see at the store.  I tell them how much the item costs, or how many reward "tickets" they need to earn to be able to purchase it. I didn't intend this to be a way to help our budget/spending, but it totally has.  Also, rewards and treats can be from the dollar store and inexpensive items.

Oil Changes: My husband changes the oil in the cars
Washing: We wash our own cars, or find a great deal
Maintenance: My husband has "self taught" himself how to fix and repair our cars needs.  Yes, there are times he can't do it all...and then he looks around for the best deal

A few other random things:
Hair Cuts- I cut ALL of our hair. (It really does save up)
We love free places: Local Libraries, Parks, Splash Pads, etc.
Landscaping: We do our own yard work, purchase clearance plants, and buy yard equipment off craigslist and KSL.
Home Repairs: We do our own repairs.
I refill my own Foaming Soap (way cheaper than buying) Find it: HERE
We buy our Electronics Refurbished/Used: TV, Computers, etc

And yes there are times we SPLURGE.
You still can splurge...but check your budget, plan for it and Save.
I am always looking for more ways to save and cut back.  So share any tips you have!


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