Unconventional Birthday Presents

birthday presents
Birthday Parties! Birthday parties can be so much fun. My nieces love going to them and I personally love helping my sister throw them. I mean, everyone deserves a day to celebrate themselves, right? A day designed just for you! I do understand, however, for parents, it is easy to feel like every time you open your child’s book bag you find another birthday party invitation. Instead of running out to get that last-minute gift and breaking the budget, try planning ahead! Below are a few things we keep on hand for last minute gift ideas that would be great for any child:
 
·         Silver Dollars or $2 Bills – Sadly, most children don’t even know what these are anymore! I think they are a great, small memento to put in a card, alongside a gift. Most young children think this is some kind of treasure chest coin, or something magical, and usually love them!
·         A Pass to Jump Kraze – Jump Kraze is a local indoor inflatable jungle gym in our area. It’s likely you have a similar place where you live. A full one day pass for a child can be purchased for around $7-$10. It’s great for those rainy days where you can’t get outside and your child has so much energy to burn!
·         A Pass to the Youth or Children’s Museum – Our local Youth Museum charges $12 per child with a paying adult. I always ask parents before I purchase this one just because they must pay some expense as well. But most parents always agree because it is such a great learning experience. Our Youth Museum has puzzle quests, a T-Rex exhibit and a planetarium. So it is fun for all ages!
·         A gift card to Sweet Frog – Everyone loves ICE CREAM! So why not have yourself a little treat after all of the festivities. Sweet Frog is very popular on the east coast, and my nieces’ personal favorite, but frozen yogurt shops are popping up everywhere, so check out what’s around your area.   
 
These are just some of my unconventional birthday presents. I’m all about experiences!  I feel like children get so many material things these days that giving an experience is just as fun. Families today have more stuff than ever and let’s be honest, most of those toys end up stashed away, forgotten, or donated just a short period of time later. So why not think outside the box and give the gift of an experience instead!

Show & Tell Tuesday

show & tell Tuesdays

Hey there! I’m linking up today with Andrea at Momfessionals for her Show & Tell Tuesday on birthday parties.  I know today is Thursday but better late than never, right?

I’m only going to share the two birthday today.  These two parties (at the time) were party themes that I had to create all the decorations myself, or with the help of my cricut machine.

The first party was my oldest daughters 3rd birthday party and she requested an m&m birthday party.  It was one of my favorite birthday themes to put together.  You can see everything here.  It was a fun and easy to put together party that she loved.

m&m party

The next party is a DC super hero girls party.  Last year at the time of her birthday I couldn’t find anything for a party in that theme, so I once again created everything myself.  You can see that party here.

super hero

Hope you enjoy checking out these two parties!  I can’t wait to see what everyone else shared!

Budget Your Way to Financial Freedom

I don’t plan on building a bridge; I never have. Maybe there was one kid in my high school algebra class that did, I don’t know. But I’m not sure why the school was so determined to help to create future bridge builders of America instead of graduating financially confident citizens who could create a budget and understand the dangers of debt.

I left school confident about facing the world and all the polynomials and parabolas that life could throw at me! Surprisingly, I never did come across those parabolas in the real world. I was disappointed. Instead, I was slapped in the face by credit card bills and debt collectors from every corner.

The truth is, budgeting doesn’t have to be difficult! If you managed to pull a C, or even convinced your teacher to bring your D up to a C with your best “sad puppy dog” face, while trying to calculate polynomials, then you can manage to plan out and complete a budget. For me, the importance of budgeting didn’t click until I found myself standing in the unemployment line after the only company I had ever worked for suddenly closed.

When I tell people that creating a budget gave me financial freedom, people are usually in shock. People have this perception that you if you have a budget you can’t have a “fun” life, but it’s exactly the opposite. Creating a budget gives you permission to spend. You no longer watch your money disappear without wondering where it went! Yes, creating a budget does take time, especially in the beginning, but it is so worth it!




The best way to start your budget is to understand how you’ve been spending your money, and where it is going. So, the first thing I did was pull my bank statements for the past 3 months and analyze my spending by organizing each transaction into various categories, such as food, clothes, entertainment, etc. Now, if you need a wake-up call, this is it… Wow! What an eye-opening experience! I knew I had indulged myself occasionally, but it wasn’t that $5 latte that put me over the edge every month. It was all the things I didn’t think of right away: overspending on groceries and eating out way too much. I admit after a long day of work I really dread the dinner routine. After getting a better picture of my spending habits, I decided that I was going to cut the grocery and eating out costs.

I started out my budget by listing all of my bills and the due dates for each one in a simple notebook. After all the bills were accounted for, I began by listing other categories that we needed, such as food, gas, and other necessities. Below are my categories that I used:

·      Food

·      Transportation

·      Entertainment

·      Gifts/Clothes

·      Allowance

You can use a weekly or monthly budget. I found that I preferred monthly. I do give myself a small monthly allowance each month. It helped to keep me motivated, and unlike before, I can now feel guilt-free when I spend. Your method for constructing your budget is up to you! Some people still use pen and paper. Some use Microsoft Excel or one of the many budget apps out there right now. Whichever method you use is fine.

Your first budget will be an estimation of what you think you can get by with spending in each category. Your budget is not going to be perfect in the beginning and each month you will find yourself tweaking it. Don’t get caught up with it not being exactly right. It’s a learning experience, and those first couple of months you may have a shortage or deficit, but it will allow you to see where it’s going. It’s really about accountability in these first few months and creating a habit. It may take 3-6 months to get it where you want it to be.

Analyzing your previous spending and writing out a simple first month’s budget is the first step in the journey to finding financial freedom!

Steal & Splurge

show & tell Tuesdays

Affiliate links are used in the post, which means if you click on an item and make a purchase I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. 

Hello!  I have been so excited about the Show and Tell Tuesday link up with Andrea.  There are several ways I love to save our family money and would love to share a few with you.  First, I hardly ever pay full price for anything. EVER.  That includes groceries, clothing, makeup, if I purchase it at a store it’s on sale or I have a coupon, but there are a few things I will splurge on.

Grocery Store

When I go the the grocery store I buy a lot of store brand items, I think that they basically taste the same or close to it.  I also try to meal plan weekly or bi-weekly so that I am not at the grocery store as often, which means I’m not buying unnecessary items.

Children’s Clothing

I always buy my kids clothes and school uniforms out of season for the year coming up.  I just buy them one size bigger for the next year.  This saves us tons of money on their wardrobe.  I often pair the sales and clearance prices with coupons for even more savings.  If I am purchasing anything online for them I try to always use Ebates to get some extra $$ back.

Apps

I love getting $ back on my purchases.  As I just stated above I love to use Ebates any time I buy anything online.  I have saved/earned a lot from using them, especially at Christmas time.  I also like to use the grocery store apps like the Kroger app, Ibotta, Receipt Hog, etc.  Use these apps in addition to your coupons and grocery stores savings to save even more.

 Jeans

I will splurge on a comfortable pair of jeans, for myself, husband or children.  There’s nothing better than a comfy pair of jeans, they are always worth the splurge.

Shoes

Just like a comfy pair of jeans there’s nothing like a comfy pair of shoes.  It’s hard to find a nice pair of comfortable, cute shoes for a great price.  Shoes and jeans are worth the splurge!  I like to be comfortable 🙂

 




Buffalo Chicken Dip

buffalo chicken dip
Yum

Buffalo Chicken Dip

With the Super Bowl right around the corner I thought I’d share my favorite appetizer for the big game, buffalo chicken dip.  This is my go to recipe for any get together that has appetizer type foods, especially the Super Bowl.  It is so easy to make and always a crowd pleaser.  It is my absolute favorite dish for the game.

I love this recipe because it’s not to hot or spicy compared to a lot of the buffalo chicken dip recipes I’ve tried.  It has the perfect amount of heat, at least for me;)  I don’t like for my mouth to be on fire while I’m trying to eat anything.  So, if you’re like that too then I think you will love this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded chicken (you can use canned)
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup Hot Sauce ( I like Franks Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce)
  • 3/4 cup mild cheddar cheese, plus additional 1/4 cup for top
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing

Mix all ingredients together and put in 8×8 baking dish, top with more shredded cheddar cheese.  Place in preheated 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Grab some tortilla chips and ENJOY!



Friday Favorites

It’s Friday and I am finally linking up with some great blogs for my favorites of the week today, so let’s get started 😉

ONE

I went to lunch yesterday with my husband and our little K.  It was a favorite for sure, anytime I get to do lunch with them it’s always good.  No pics though 🙁

TWO

Nashville is back on CMT.  Yay!!  I have loved this show since the beginning and I hated when they announced they were cancelling it.  I’m so glad that CMT picked it up.  It started last Thursday but I didn’t get to watch it until this week and it was so good.

THREE

Look what came this week!  I absolutely love Bath & Body Works Vanilla Bean Noel, it smells so good.  It was on sale last week online so I ordered some to last me for a while and I also got Peppermint Twist, it’s really good too.  I think they’re still on sale if you need some too.

The frugal sisters

FOUR

I have been reading The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.  I highly recommend this book if you watch their show Fixer Upper, it’s so good!

Well, that’s it for me this week, have a happy Friday!! I’m ready for a long weekend with my loves.

This post was shared at Friday Favorites with Andrea, Erika and Narci.

Friday Favorites

Five on Friday with Christina.

Oh Hey Friday with Karli and Amy.

HIgh Five for Friday with Katie, Tif and Della.

This entry was posted in Home.

Workin’ It Wednesdays

Today I’m linking up with Erika and Shay and sharing my New Year’s goal for Workin It Wednesdays!

I’m not really very good at keeping New Year’s resolutions but I think I will be able to keep these goals for 2017 to work towards each day.

First up, I want to make sure that each and every day I am starting it off the best way possible by reading God’s word.  I want to do this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  I have been doing this for a little while now as soon as the kiddos are off to school I have my time to spend in God’s word.  That’s is the best time for me because I have no distractions during that part of the day.  I do want to find a good devotional to read too, so if you know of any let me know 🙂

I want more organization and less clutter in my home.  I want to go through my entire house top to bottom and organize and declutter it all.   When you have kids, and what a blessing they are, you accumulate a lot of stuff so their things will be most of the organization and decluttering. This will be a lot of work but it’s a goal I look forward to completing.

I want my family to become healthier in 2017.  I want us to be more active and eat healthier.  I try to fix meals that are healthy for our family of 4 but sometimes it’s hard, especially in the Winter when I really like to make comfort food.  The best way I know how to help our family become healthier is by meal planning.  I do 2 week meal plans and they work well for us, I usually stick to what I have planned out for each night.

I would also like to start reading more this year.  I never have loved reading books but I think I would enjoy it now.  I am currently reading Chip & Joanna Gaines book The Magnolia Story.  If you like their show you will love their book.  I’m almost finished with it and need something else to read, suggestions??

I think these goals are all attainable and I look forward to doing each one of them every day!  I’m excited and looking forward to what 2017 holds.

 

This entry was posted in Home.

December Box

December box TFS
It’s almost December and I am ready to celebrate Christmas as long as I can. Check out this cute December Box, it’s like the Christmas Eve boxes only you get to enjoy everything the whole month of December.  Every year I buy my girls matching pj’s for the Christmas season, we watch Christmas movies as much as possible, drink hot chocolate and have some popcorn of course, because what’s a good movie without popcorn, right?



I like to give the kiddos their Christmas pj’s, movies, books, etc., at the very beginning of December, or right after Thanksgiving- or that night ;0)

December box TFS

I want them, and myself too, to enjoy their Christmas goodies the entire month of December.  I want to wash their Christmas pj’s 5 times a week, read that book every night and watch Christmas movies as much as possible because once Christmas is over, it’s just not the same. Since we love to be in the Christmas spirit all month we start as soon as we can.

Put your Christmas pajamas, a movie, good book, hot chocolate, popcorn and whatever else you may want in your box 🙂



 

This post was shared at: Linkup Party Inspiration, Link Party Palooza

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

cinnamon apple
Yum

My kids love pancakes! It’s one thing I know they will want to eat for breakfast just about any time.  I decided I would change things up a bit for them and make some apple cinnamon pancakes.  Well, they were a hit.  My little K thought they were the best 🙂



Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbs butter, melted and cool
  •  1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 medium- large tart apple diced

In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar.  Dice a medium to large tart apple, I used honeycrisp.  Add milk, egg, melted butter and vanilla; mix until smooth.  Fold in diced apples.  Batter will be thick.

Heat a frying pan or griddle with some cooking spray over medium heat.  Pour 1/3 cup of batter into pan, spread batter out some.  Let cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until it starts to brown nicely.  Best served warm, with or without maple syrup.

Makes 5 large pancakes.



This post was shared at : Linkup Party Inspiration. Link Party Palooza

Oreo Truffles

oreoballs
Yum

Today I am sharing one of my very favorite desserts to make at Christmas, OREO truffles. I know most people have probably tried these already, but if you haven’t you NEED to make these, soon! They are quite simple to make and only require 3 ingredients. Every time I take these somewhere they vanish almost immediately.




Ingredients:

  • 1 package Oreo cookies
  • 1 8oz pack of softened cream cheese
  • 24 oz of white chocolate chips or one pack of almond bark

oreo truffles

First, you want to finely crush your cookies.  I finely crushed mine in a food processor but you can use a large ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin.  Crush the cookies as they are, do not remove the creme centers.

Beat your softened cream cheese with a mixer, then slowly add your crushed cookies 1 cup at a time.

Once the cookies and cream cheese are mixed together well, form 1 inch balls and place on wax paper.  I used aluminum foil since I didn’t have wax paper, it worked pretty well.  You should have about 50 Oreo truffles once you’re finished.  Place them in the freezer for 20-30 min.

I used about 1 3/4 bags of white chocolate chips.  Melt your chocolate OR almond bark in the microwave or on your stove-top with a double-boiler per the instructions on the package.  *Be careful to not burn the white chocolate if you’re using the microwave.  Once the chocolate is melted take your Oreo balls out of the freezer and dip in the chocolate, then place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.

Store your truffles in the refrigerator in an air tight container since the contain cream cheese.