Author Archive

Freebie Friday June 26, 2015

Friday, June 26th, 2015

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! As always, we would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice I’m sharing some of my best strategies for air travel for our M Challengehow to pack lighter and how to save money and time. All good things, right? You’ll also find a review of Barbara Delinsky’s new novel, Blueprints, plus a giveaway so you can read it, too, so be sure to enter!

Check out this week’s edition of It’s the 3 Little Things to get your weekly dose of happy,  find lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas in our popular Notebook, and be sure to take a look at all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways, too.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

Food & Drink
Health & Beauty
Depend Active Fit Sample

 
Entertainment
 
 
This Week’s Freebie Events: June 27 – July 3
 
27th – Barnes & Noble: Join story time with Onion and the Dark, 11 am
 
27th – Lakeshore Learning: Create a Storybook Cottage, 11 am – 3 pm
 
27th – Lowe’s: Build a Captain America Motorcycle, 10 am
 
27th – Pottery Barn: Nursery Style Event, 4 pm – 6 pm

 

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Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky (Plus GIVEAWAY!)

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

*This post is sponsored by St. Martin’s Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I am honored to get to share about Barbara Delinsky’s latest novel, Blueprints. With 21 books under her belt (published in 28 languages!), Barbara Delinsky is a household name in literature and today I have the opportunity to share and giveaway her beautiful new book that is on store shelves now.

Pinch me, please. How can this be my job?

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

If you haven’t heard of Blueprints, here is a little synopsis (without the spoilers!) to share a bit more about what you can expect from this book. On Caroline MacAfee’s 56th birthday, she is told that she is too old to continue hosting the home improvement show, “Gut It!” that she has been a part of for years. Her replacement doesn’t want to tell her about the switch. I mean, how do you break it to your own mother that her replacement is…well, her very own daughter?  There is, of course, conflict knowing that the job that Caroline loves and knows so well is being taken from her and there is sadness as Jamie finds the relationship she has with her mom is slipping away from her in this new role. When a traumatic death happens in their family, not only do these two realize that they will have to work together to pick up the pieces of their loss, but their entire life has went into a different direction than either of them expect.

Since this book tells the story of Caroline, at the age of 56, and Jamie, in her thirties, it is a book that you could share with your own mother and will appeal to women of all ages. The story of friendship between this mother & daughter duo made for a beautiful read and would be a great beach read escape this summer. The story particularly shines as Jamie learns to find herself and finds love for the unexpected family she has been shouldered with. Caroline’s blossoming relationship between her and her longtime pal also builds into a beautiful love story in the golden years of life.  I would recommend this book for fans of Kristen Hannah and Diane Chamberlain, two of my favorite authors for a fun escape from the heavier books.

At the heart of it all, this story is all about how the blueprints of our life change over time. We all have plans, but let’s face it… they rarely work out the way we expect them to.

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

I don’t know about you, but the blueprints for my own life are so very different than the ones that I started with.  To be honest, I didn’t start with very good blueprints from the beginning and, perhaps,  more comic book illustrations of a magical land for how life would work out.   I was one of those people that just figured things out as they came to me and lived in the clouds the earlier part of my years. I had no real goals or plans after college, I married quick, and I settled into life early in our marriage back in our hometown after an unexpected job loss.

We started with our “starter home,” a house that made me weep around every corner at all we would have to do to make it livable. This was not the dream home. We figured we would improve upon it and then get the heck out of here with a fat check for all of our hard work.

Unfortunately, in Indiana that’s a rarity.

Who knew?

As we started to put the elbow grease into our space though, we found that maybe JUST MAYBE, this home had some potential.

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

Once we got started on the updates, we found it hard to stop. We knocked down walls, we created a patio we could love, we spray painted, we stained, we renovated bathrooms, we added mantels, we made a bonus room out a shed…the list just goes on and on. Twelve years later, I have become so proud of our little home and we appreciate the size of it (less to maintain) and the beauty in adding our own signature touches everywhere we go. It’s in the big things like gutted spaces, but in the smaller things like knitted centerpieces.

The first thing people say is, “This house is so YOU.”

And I grin like an idiot because I am so proud.

How’s that for a blueprints switch?

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

Instead of buying a bigger house, we decided to do something different with our money… we have decided to see the world instead! We are six years away from paying off our home and we can’t wait to say that this home is REALLY our home. With the money we save on our mortgage, we can show our kids the world.

To me, these blueprints are so much better than our original plans. To see the world with the people you love FAR outweighs the care & maintenance (not to mention that mortgage payment) for a big, shiny new home. 

That doesn’t mean we are done with the projects though. We continue to discover that there is potential around every turn.  I am so thankful that God granted us this blueprint for our life.

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

To learn more about Blueprints! 

Learn more at BarbaraDelinsky.com
Follow Barbara on Twitter and Facebook
Use the hashtag #Blueprints to share about this book.
Read an excerpt HERE!

Today I am giving away TWO COPIES of Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky. Follow the instructions below in our Rafflecopter widget to enter to win!  Please note that you must be a US Resident to win! Good luck, everyone! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This post is sponsored by St. Martin’s Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Amy’s Notebook 06.24.15

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Inspirational Printable Art via Elegance & Enchantment

Source: Elegance & Enchantment

 

An inspirational watercolor for your wall.

When every single day is class picture day….yes.

This is black and white- thank you, Jon Stewart. We are praying for the victims this week.

An interview on one of my favorite books from last year.

Do you have a vague friend too?

14 ways to beautify your closet door. So inspiring!

30 books for the men in your life- bookmarking for my man!

Rainbow Smoothies via Love & Lemons

Source: Love & Lemons

 

Taste the rainbow!

I love this mantle decor (time to raid the yard!)

Daddy beauty school- ADORABLE.

Using Instagram for work & play.

A minimalist home with color.

Oh, to leave a legacy like this.

Did you read the NPR Book Club Selection this month? It’s on my list!

amys_notebook

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

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Smart Strategies for Saving Time & Money When Flying

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

How to save money and time when flying

Over the years, I have been doing a lot more travel than I ever dreamed I would be doing. When you travel frequently, you quickly learn that:

  • you need a lot less than you think you do
  • proper planning will save you hours of frustration
  • and each trip is a lesson on how to do it better

I wanted to share with you a few tips to help you save time and money on your next flight. These are my tried and true strategies that I employ each time I fly and I hope they will help you on your next trip.

How To Save Money & Time When Flying

1. Check in Online

The biggest timesaver for me has always been taking the time to check in for my flights online twenty-four hours before my flight.  You can save so much time and can also avoid having to wait as long at the airport if you have checked in for your flight early. What would normally take an hour can now take twenty to thirty minutes just by using my computer at home.

While you are checking in online, print out all of the documents you might need for your trip and store them in a folder together. I keep all trip itineraries, meeting information, agendas, and check-in information for the returning flight together.  Pull this together with your freshly printed boarding passes and put this in your carry-on luggage or purse for easy access.

Pack light and smart for air travel

2. Keep Your Bags Light

Most airlines now charge for you to check in your luggage, not to mention the hassle of waiting at baggage claims for your luggage to arrive when you are anxious to start your trip.  The largest allowed size for carry-on bags is 22×14×19 inches, but you can maximize your packing by in a quality soft-sided carry-on bag, which will be roomier than a more rigid bag.  Just by packing light, you are able to shave approximately $50 on a round-trip flight!

If you are traveling as a family, divide the luggage up between each family member and consider investing in one small roller bag for each child that they will be able to maneuver themselves.  Child size luggage can be found at discount stores like Target, Walmart, TJ Maxx, and Marshall’s. Even with this investment, you can still easily save $25 on the way back because you won’t need to check a bag. The bonus is that they can use that bag for years to come, making it easy to recoup your travel investment.

The best part about keeping your bags light, though is that you can use this as an excuse to not buy so many travel souvenirs on your trip. Consider that light bag as not only a savings for not checking in, but the ultimate excuse to not indulge in those pricey gift shops.

If, in the end, you are unable to reduce your luggage to be carry-on compliant, paying for your checked bags online can sometimes save you a few dollars each way.

 

3. Pack Smart

It seems that it is always the people that do not take the time to pack wisely that become the most flustered or are asked to step aside by security. The most important thing to note is that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules require that passengers only carry liquids in three ounce containers in no more than one, clear, quart-sized bag.

Visit freebie sites like Freebies4Mom.com, DealSeekingMom.com, or MommySnacks.net and stockpile sample size toiletries and detergent for your trips that will comply with these federal guidelines. If you travel frequently, reusable travel containers can also be a fantastic investment that can be refilled with the items you already have from home. Make sure to store this bag right on top for easy access, as it will need to be removed from your bags when going through airport security.

Underneath the bag of toiletries, tightly roll your clothing to prevent wrinkling and to maximize the space within your carry-on luggage. Choose clothing that can easily be mixed and matched and make sure to prepare for what weather conditions may be awaiting you. There is nothing worse than being at an amusement park with your family during a torrential downpour and paying $15 for an umbrella or heading to a state with warmer weather and paying $35 for a junky tourist sweatshirt because you are freezing.

Last, make sure that any electronics that will need to be inspected rest on top next to your toiletries until you get through security.  The ones that will not need to be run through separately will be easier to scan if they are right on top and those that require a separate scanning will be easy to access for this procedure (remember that everything can be rearranged in the bag, once you get through security, to protect your electronics from harm during travel).

Pack dried fruit for travel

4. Thrifty Snacking

The days of meals and snacks on flights are long gone so it is important to have a thrifty snacking strategy to avoid spending $50 at the airport while waiting for flights. Pack food items that will travel well both ways to reduce your spending. Items like protein bars (avoid anything with melting chocolate), trail mixes, dried fruit, and apples are all great items to tuck away in your bag for a snack while you are waiting. If your flight is leaving during the lunch hour, spend a little time packing lunches that can be eaten in flight or while waiting at the airport. This little effort of planning can easily save you $7 per person.

While you are unable to bring any liquids through security, there is one easy strategy you can take to save on those $5 waters at the airport. Tuck an empty reusable water bottle in your bag and fill it at a drinking fountain when you get through security.

 

Travel Game Ideas

5. Frugal Entertainment

It is easy to keep everyone entertained on the flights, but it also requires a little strategy, particularly if you are bringing children. Consider packing one set of things to do on the way there and one small set of things to do on the way back to keep your children happy. Library books, magnetic travel games, coloring books, a deck of cards, puzzle books, and even your child’s portable gaming system are great ways to keep them entertained.

It is important to keep in mind that electronics do have to be turned off at the beginning and ending of each flight, so don’t just rely on that Nintendo DS, DVD player, or that iPod to hold their interest. They will be glad that you packed a coloring book or reading material when the time comes to switch them off. As an added savings, don’t forget to bring their headphones for these electronics, as the airline will happily charge you for each set you might have forgotten.

I hope that these tips will help you on your next flight and don’t forget to tuck those items away to save time for the next trip. There is nothing like having a bag of toiletries that are already packed, a special set of items that are already preset in your bags to keep the kids entertained, or  the travel pillow already packed in your bag to save you time for your next trip.

If you want more great tips on travel, be sure to visit our Organized Travel article before heading out for your next vacation!

What are some ways that you save time and money when you are flying? I would love to hear your success stories or lessons learned!

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Apron Full of Giveaways 06.23.15

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Vintage Gathering Apron via Etsy

Source: Bless This Mess,  $66.00

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Strategies for Packing Lighter

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Strategies for Packing Lighter

Packing lighter not only will help you save you time at the airport, but it can significantly reduce the amount of money you spend on your next trip. Unfortunately, most airlines now charge for you to check in your luggage, but it is important to be aware that the largest allowed size for carry-on bags is 22×14×19 inches. With careful planning and strategic packing though you can maximize your suitcase and shave approximately $50 off on your next round trip flight with a few smart packing strategies.

Here are a few quick tips for lightening your load on your next flight:

1. Call Your Destination First

Wherever you are headed, whether it is for business travel or leisure, call first and see what is already included in your hotel room. Some items like bathrobes, hair dryers, and toiletries are common items that are often included within your stay, but you may discover that your hotel can offer some unexpected offerings that will free up a great deal of precious space in your carry-on bag. For example, items like beach towels, toys or movies for children, and portable cribs are items that could be offered complimentary with your room. I have found that it just never hurts to call ahead and ask and you might be surprised to discover just how little you really need to bring!

2. Divide Your Luggage 

If you are traveling as a family, divide the luggage up between each family member and consider investing in one small roller bag for each child that they will be able to maneuver themselves. Child size luggage can be found at discount stores like Target, Walmart, TJ Maxx, and Marshall’s. Even with this investment, you can still easily save $25 on the way back because you won’t need to check a bag. The bonus is that they can use that bag for years to come, making it easy to recoup your travel investment.

3. Pack Smart

It seems that it is always the people that do not take the time to pack wisely that become the most flustered or are asked to step aside by security. The most important thing to note is that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules require that passengers only carry liquids in three ounce containers in no more than one, clear, quart-sized bag.

I love to visit freebie sites like Freebies4Mom.com, DealSeekingMom.com, or The Savings Lifestyle and stockpile sample size toiletries and detergent for your trips that will comply with these federal guidelines. If you travel frequently, reusable travel containers can also be a fantastic investment that can be refilled with the items you already have from home. Make sure to store this bag right on top for easy access, as it will need to be removed from your bags when going through airport security.

4. Establish Order In Your Carry-On 

Underneath your bag of toiletries, tightly roll your clothing to prevent wrinkling and to maximize the space within your carry-on luggage. Choose clothing that can easily be mixed and matched and make sure to prepare for what weather conditions may be awaiting you. There is nothing worse than being at an amusement park with your family during a torrential downpour and paying $15 for an umbrella or heading to a state with warmer weather and paying $35 for a junky tourist sweatshirt because you are freezing.

Last, make sure that any electronics that will need to be inspected rest on top next to your toiletries until you get through security. The ones that will not need to be run through separately will be easier to scan if they are right on top and those that require a separate scanning will be easy to access for this procedure. Remember that everything can be rearranged in the bag, once you get through security, to protect your electronics from harm during travel.

5. Save Even More Money

The best part about keeping your bags light though is that you can use this as an excuse to not buy so many travel souvenirs on your trip. Consider that light bag as not only a savings for not checking in, but the ultimate excuse to not indulge in those pricey gift shops. I have been known to use this excuse a time or two when coming home empty-handed after a business trip!

The important thing to remember is if, in the end, you are unable to reduce your luggage to be carry-on compliant, try paying for your baggage online first. Just by paying for your checked bags online you can sometimes save you a few dollars each way.

How to Pack Lighter for Travel

In the end, the lighter the load, the lighter the expense and the easier your life will be when getting through those security checks!

What are some of your tips for packing smarter and lighter when traveling?

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Polyvore, Dandy Blend, & Books

Friday, June 19th, 2015

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you had a wonderful week this week.  I am loving being on summer break with my kids and am really savoring the slowed down days that we have been having together. Today we are looking forward to a pool day (finally!) and I can’t wait to sit poolside with a big stack of books- yay!

St. Margaret's House

Before we jump into the happy, I just want to thank you for all of your love and support of our site. The sponsored content that we share help so many charities and this week we were able to donate an entire month of classes to help the women of St. Margaret’s House (a local women & children’s shelter)  learn a new skill or trade including all those materials they need for class. I can think of no better use of money than empowering women to learn a new skill! Look at these beautiful scarves they have been taught to make and be amazed.  This winter, we were also able to supply a large donation valued at $1,500 in eco-friendly toiletries to assist the shelter through my partnership with ePantry. Your continued support makes donations possible to help those in need and I thank you from the bottom of my heart! I know sponsored content isn’t always your favorite thing, but this is how we can help those in need do big things. 

Today we have Cindy Bokma from Hello Dollface and author of A Thousand Dollars For a Kiss and To Marilyn, With Love  joining us to share her happy list!  Lori has been a longtime reader and loyal MomAdvice friend for many years. I am so lucky to know her and I’m lucky to get to share her favorites today! Please give her a warm welcome! If you are interested in being a guest poster on the 3 little things, send over a list of your 3 favorites and why to amy@momadvice.com and I will share them in the upcoming weeks!

Without further adieu, here are Cindy’s 3 favorites this week!

Polyvore

Polyvore

Between blogging and writing and reading, there’s Polyvore. This is like an  adult version of Paper Dolls which I loved playing with as a child. I pretty much love any activity that allows my imagination to run wild.
On Polyvore.com, you can create collages, outfits, interiors…basically whatever you want.  Its a fantastic stress release for creative people. I have spent hours designing things on here! There is nearly unlimited clothing, housewares, backgrounds, art, and so much more to work with.

Books

The happiest time of my day is the evening when I read. My day is over, chores are done, kids are usually finished with their homework and it’s time to relax. Sometimes I’ll go out at night and I can’t wait to rush home to whatever book I am reading! When I go on vacation I used to pack a bag filled with books, now it’s so easy (and lighter) to pack my Kindle or iPad! I always have several books ready to read and spending hours during the day with a book is the ultimate luxury!
I like real books followed by reading on my kindle, then the ipad. There is no greater joy than being really into a fantastic book! I spend a lot of time perusing new books on amazon and reading reviews on Goodreads. There have been times when I’ve whiled away a few hours just reading about reading!

Dandy Blend

Have you heard of Dandy Blend? When I was cutting back on coffee, I searched high and low for a good replacement to fill the void. I discovered this amazing drink which you can buy in tea or instant powdered form.
Dandy Blend is made from the roasted roots of dandelion, chicory and beets. There are numerous health benefits to this beverage which make it a constant in my daily diet. Its cost effective, contains zero gluten or caffeine and is not acidic or bitter. I have switched from drinking about six cups of coffee to one or two cups in the morning and Dandy Blend if I want a hot drink throughout the day!

How fun was that list this week? I am so excited to share more great ideas from you all in the weeks to come! Thank you, Cindy, for generously sharing the happy today!

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of  It’s the 3 Little Things

Now it’s your turn! What’s making you happy this week?

Freebie Friday June 19, 2015

Friday, June 19th, 2015

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! As always, we would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice we continued our M Challenge on travel with some amazing printable travel games, tips on learning to love travel with your husband, and our best ways to save on your next weekend getaway. I’m also sharing fun outdoor ideas and recipes – grilled brussels sprouts, a festive fruit flag tray perfect for the 4th, and diy outdoor entertaining ideas, as well as a great interview with Tamara Ireland Stone for our Sundays With Writers series about her book, Every Last Word.

Check out this week’s edition of It’s the 3 Little Things to get your weekly dose of happy,  find lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating and craft ideas in our popular Notebook, and be sure to take a look at all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways, too.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Food & Drink
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4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray *This post is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

One of my favorite celebrations is 4th of July and today I wanted to share with you a fast & easy 4th of July fruit dessert platter you or your kids can make into a flag to celebrate the holiday.  Walmart partnered up with me to share a festive 4th dish and I have to say that this delivers on the red, white, & blue.

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray 4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray

Since I am gluten-free, I often have to bypass the dessert trays. As an adult, it is not a big a deal. As a child, the dessert table is EVERYTHING, especially when it comes to holiday feasting. I wanted to create this cute tray just for them and I found these glutino gluten-free yogurt covered pretzels are not only a fantastic way to add the white we needed for our stripes, but they also are highly addictive and delicious. You can certainly make your own white chocolate covered pretzels, if you are feeling ambitious, but these cut down on the time invested in creating our cute tray!

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray

Flag cupcake picks can be a great way to festively pick up a berry (or ten).  I found these at a local party supplies store and they are an adorable touch to a festive spread.

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray

I think the best part about this tray is that it is not only relatively healthy, but it is also a tray that you can confidently create and know it will get eaten. After a big cookout, light desserts are a wonderful addition to the table for snacking on. Have too many desserts on your table? Save this to serve up during the fireworks. It will be gone before it even gets dark enough to see them!

Check out the instructions below on how many supplies you need to put this tray together!

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
A fast & festive gluten-free fruit dessert tray your guests will flip for.
Ingredients
  • 2 pints strawberries trimmed, rinsed, and dried
  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed
  • 2 packages of glutino yogurt-covered pretzels (or white chocolate regular pretzels, if not going gluten-free on this tray)
Instructions
  1. On a 9x13 cookie sheet, place a small clear plastic (or glass) square container of berries to create your blue flag corner.
  2. Now alternate the red berries and white pretzels in stripes until you have filled your tray.

 

While you are here, these are a few more of my favorite 4th of July ideas on MomAdvice! xo

Cupcake Pick 4th of July Wreath

Make a 4th of July wreath out of cupcake picks (world’s easiest festive touch!)

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Your Kids

Teach your kids about the REAL 4th of July Heroes (the reason we all celebrate!)

Diy Family-Friendly Bar Cart

Turn a tool cart into a bar cart for the 4th (adorable girl not included!)

DIY slow Cooker Citronella Candles

Keep the bugs away with DIY Citronella Candles (made in your slow cooker!)

Red, White, & Blueberry Trifle

Make a Red, White, & Blueberry Trifle (another light & easy dessert!)

3-ingredient Watermelon Granita

Wow your guests with this Watermelon Granita (just 3-ingredients!)

Watermelon Coconut Lime Smoothies #recipe via momadvice.com

Or blend up leftover watermelon into this Watermelon Lime & Coconut Ice (I love leftovers!)

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

Make a festive Blueberry Sangria Lemonade for toasting the holiday (cheers and cheers again!)

Berry Quinoa Parfaits

Leftover berries? Turn them into a protein-packed Berry Quinoa Parfait.

Greek Quinoa Salad

Everyone loves a good salad! Greek Quinoa Salad is yummy and gluten-free (winning!)

Lemony Spinach & Tomato Quinoa Salad

Why have one salad when you can have two? Lemony Spinach & Tomato Quinoa Salad is delicious (even at room temperature!)

Caprese Pasta Salad #recipe via MomAdvice.com

I am all about the caprese so this Pasta Caprese Salad really fits the 4th of July bill! (can be made gluten-free with a pasta substitute)

5-ingredient Caprese Pork Chops

Did someone say caprese? These 5-ingredient Caprese Chops would be delicious on the grill.

The World's Best Steak Marinade

Feeling Fancy? Try the World’s Best Steak Marinade (it makes cheap cuts taste gourmet!)

Restaurant-Style Steak Recipe

Rained out? Restaurant-Worthy Steak on the stove. In your face, rain!

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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Six Easy Ways to Save on That Weekend Getaway

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Note: I’m reposting this article in honor of our Travel M Challenge with a new header and format that highlights these great travel saving tips that we continue to use to take short trips and stay on budget.

6 Easy Ways to Save on Weekend Getaways

When my husband and I celebrated nine years of marriage, we wanted to celebrate our anniversary in a special way so we decided to take a little trip to Traverse City, Michigan and enjoy a weekend getaway for just the two of us. My husband’s family was kind of enough to take care of the kids and we were off for two days of sightseeing, window shopping, and delicious eating.

We remained true to our budget through careful planning and research and I wanted to share with you a few ways we found to save on our memorable weekend getaway!

6 Ways to Save on Weekend Getaways

1. Research Hotel Rates

There were tons of great places to stay in Traverse City and I wanted the place where we stayed to be close to downtown shopping to be a fun getaway for us. We checked Kayak for room rates and found the Grand Traverse Resort to be approximately the same price as the other hotels, but it had many amenities. The reviews on the hotel were great and we were thrilled to find a rate that saved us about $70 a night versus the hotel rates.

All of that being said, it seemed because we had booked this discount rate, we also got the discount room. Our room was the one without the view, on the ground floor, and smelled like a smoking room. We also had no idea that they would charge a resort fee of $9.95 a day for all of those amenities that we did not use.

We still did score a great rate, but realized that the amount of time we spent in our room was not worth the grandeur and we will find a less expensive place next time!

2. Request A Visitor Packet

While the visitor packet for this town lacked coupons, it did give us some ideas for good places to visit and offered great historical information on the places we planned to visit. Through this packet of information, I was able to jot down some ideas for places to eat and see while we were in the town.

3. Find the Best Places to Eat

I wanted to eat at the coolest spots in town and we were able to do that with just a little research on my part. I hopped on Chow and checked through the forums for information on the town we were visiting. People offered honest opinions on the best spots in town and we decided to eat at two of the restaurants that had been recommended.

The first restaurant we ate at was called Trattoria Stella – a fantastic Italian place in a renovated insane asylum. No, I am not joking! My husband, who watches many of those ghost-chasing shows, was thoroughly creeped out and it made for great conversation with our waiter. The food and wine choices relied heavily on local farmers and local wines which made for a fresh and delicious dinner.

The other recommendation was for Don’s Drive-In, which was absolutely everything that I adore about diner food. Greasy burgers, giant shakes, and the best fried mushrooms ever. We took our shakes to go and drove near the water for a view. It was far too cold to sit too long, but we prided ourselves on making the most of our two day getaway!

4. Talk to Locals

When someone comes to my town, I love to be a local authority. Isn’t it fun to share all of the hidden gems of your town? We talked to anyone who would chat with us and they shared their special places to eat, shop, and their favorite wineries to visit in town. People just love sharing about their home and that is how we were able to discover an out-of-the-way winery that was not listed on maps. It had closed by the time we arrived, but we were able to take some wonderful pictures of the view.


5. Put Together Your Own Tours & Packages

The Grand Traverse Resort offered a room package that included a tour of local wineries. The package included a two night stay and a tour of three wineries. The price? A whopping $224.50 per person. Since the tour wineries were listed on their website, I jotted them down and we decided to do our own tour. The price for us to do our own wine tour? Gas plus $3-5 per tasting at the wineries. With the money saved, we were able to take home a bottle of wine from each of the three wineries as a memento of our special anniversary! The two highlights for us were Shady Lane & Black Star Farms.

We saved ourselves even more time and money by trying wines at the restaurant and even picking up a bottle at the gas station. Through their wines, we discovered what wineries were not worth visiting and which ones we could not wait to enjoy at their winery.


5b. Put Your GPS/Phone Maps to Good Use for Your Tour

Using first a car GPS, and now our smartphone maps, has saved us so much money in gas and an inevitable divorce because we always get lost. It has been one of the best investments for our family- I truly could go on and on!

Program your device with all of the places that you would like to go before heading on your trip. I visited all of the sites of the restaurants, our hotel, even the downtown shops that I wanted to hit so all of the information was right at our fingertips. We enjoyed a scenic view to the town and we were able to navigate our way around without any problems to all of the places we wanted to see.

6. Stick To Window Shopping

I won’t say we didn’t make any purchases (I’ve already mentioned the wine…), but the majority of the trip was spent window shopping and picture-taking. I was able to take pictures of all the beautiful windows and antiques that we saw and that seemed to satisfy any urge I had to shop. We did enjoy oodles of free food samples downtown and shared a slice of pizza on a park bench to people watch over our lunch.

It was a happy anniversary that celebrated almost 15 years of being together! And staying on budget made it that much sweeter.

Do you have any weekend getaways planned? What is your favorite way to save on your vacation travels? Please share!

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