Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

What Do You Do All Day? The Real Story Behind My Niche Blog!

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

One of the biggest questions that I get asked is, “What exactly is your job?” It is one of those things that people are often curious about, and admittedly are confused about,  since my job is so difficult to explain. Today I wanted to offer a behind-the-scenes look at what it is like to run a niche blog.

I have been blogging for 9 1/2 years now which makes me a dinosaur in this business! The blog that you see today is very different than the blog I started out with. The site has grown a lot over the years and many  of you have been through all of its growing pains. For those of you that have been following our journey, I wanted to share with you what my business has evolved into.

What is a Typical Day Like For You?

I am a busy mom of two kiddos so my day-to-life is probably a lot like yours. I handle the day-to-day routines and schedules of my kids. I take my kids to their extra curricular activities, I volunteer weekly at my kid’s school helping with kids that are struggling with reading, we go to worship once a week, and I do my best to workout at the gym three days a week.

Every pocket of time that I have beyond that though is spent working on projects for one of the many freelance clients I write for. I am either shopping for my clients, creating tutorials for craft/diy/food, photographing projects, or writing for them. Since many of my clients are running on magazine calendar deadlines, you will often find me shopping for Easter supplies in the dead of winter or working on Christmas crafts in the Fall.

Even my free time is often accounted for because I share it with you. I try to read four books a month for our reviews and you will rarely find me sitting still when I am watching television because I am usually working on a craft project at the same time for the blog.

Much like you, I am sure, I am pretty beat at the end of the day! By the time the kids go to bed, I am ready for bed myself. I usually head to bed pretty early so I can start the whole routine again!

Who Works With You?

I think one of the things that people have found most surprising about our site is that I was the only writer & contributor on my site for over nine years alone. My husband did all of the coding and design of our site and I managed all the content.

When our site experienced a lot of growth from Pinterest, I realized that there was no way that I could manage all of this on my own. My email inbox had over 50,000 unopened emails, my taxes and paperwork for my business were a mess, and I had been treating my work like a hobby rather than a business.

This last month I hired a virtual assistant to help  me with some of the things my readers had come to expect here, but didn’t really showcase my personality- the weekly freebie list, our weekly notebook, and our giveaway link list. She got my inbox down to zero within two months and I finally felt like I could breathe a little bit. She is, in one word, amazing, and has brought back a quality of life that I felt like I had been lacking.

We also hired an accountant to handle our taxes this year, something that had burdened us greatly over the years, and I also started using FreshBooks (affiliate) to help me keep track of my accounting better (a recommendation made by my amazing friend over at Dine & Dish). Invoicing, following up on payments with clients, and paperwork for them takes up a good portion of my day so any people/products I can use to make my day go smoother really helps me.

embroidery thread egg for Kenmore

 

Why Do You Work For So Many Brands?

I write a lot of content for brands because, frankly, it helps pay the bills. I write professionally for five to six clients monthly and those projects help our family financially, but much of the earnings go towards keeping my site up and running.

When our site was smaller, we had an inexpensive web host and I was able to do everything on my own. Our site grew by 100,000 users this year alone, which is incredible and awesome, but our web host couldn’t handle the traffic! It was time to invest in the business and move to Liquid Web (affiliate), who can handle anything we throw at them. We currently spend about a thousand dollars a month to pay for web hosting, photography props/equipment, our accountant, and my assistant. Many of my projects that I write for just go towards keeping the business afloat and paying my self-employment taxes.

No, I Was Asking How Much You Make?

Yup, I get asked that all the time although I have NEVER asked anyone what their salary is. It is such a weird job that people are always dying to know how much you make. I make a full-time income thanks to the companies I work for as a content writer/creator, ambassador, and spokesperson for. If I was living on our ad revenue alone, we could pay for our web host and maybe a bill or two. In all honesty though,  my income fluctuates a lot because it depends on what jobs come through for me for the year. This past year all my time was devoted towards my book which was a rewarding experience, but also prevented me from taking on a lot of paying jobs.

How Do You Do It All?

I don’t think I do more than many of the other working parents that I know, but people constantly ask me this. I think the main reason is because when people do these types of projects around their house they aren’t pointing a bunch of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram traffic over to it like,

“LOOK AT ME! I MAKE THINGS! LOOK HOW AWESOME I AM!”

Here is an example of a typical month of projects  for my clients.

I knitted a scarf for a new yarn line that Walmart was carrying.

I painted vases with my kids for Kenmore.

I took my kids over to the Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit at Brookfield Zoo to write a review for a local magazine I write for.

I gathered up ideas for things to do with old books for Goodwill.

I made homemade laundry detergent for Walmart.

I made a cookbook with my kids for Kenmore (post coming soon!)

I made whole wheat toasted tarts with Walmart.

There are several other projects, but this gives you an idea of what I am up to. If I look at it as a whole, I am completely overwhelmed. On any given week I could have anywhere between two to four projects for clients. Since I do all of  the shopping, crafting/cooking and then my own writing & photography for these projects, each project is very time-consuming.

I also am maintaining the writing that I do here on  my blog like sharing yummy recipes for pecan-crusted chicken fingers, whipping up Peep-tinis, & sharing all those fun book reviews and making sure we have plenty of content for the rest of the week. All of that, and I haven’t even touched on the social media side of things which is just as consuming now that my readers can connect with me through every available social media channel!

Usually the most surprising amount of time I spend is on the shopping and the staging for photos. I will get a brilliant idea for a client and then get to the store and find out that the items I need aren’t sold there or that I have to completely rethink a project. What’s worse is if I spend a whole day on a recipe and it flops.

Although it appears I take every opportunity given to me, I take about half or less of the projects offered. If you look at the projects above, you might be surprised they were even for companies because they are just the types of projects I would want to share with you anyway. Since the companies supply a budget for supplies, it helps to offset some of the costs to crank out this many projects monthly.

Time management is a tricky terrain with a juggle like this. I have learned that is better to tackle a few recipes in one day and then edit & write the content the other days. Many days it looks like a bomb exploded in my house because I am in some stage of creation for someone. It doesn’t make my Type-A heart very happy, but it is one of those things that comes with the job. I try to look at it the way I see my kids LEGO’s all over the floor or all their art supplies out, I am just proud they are creative and they are making something. I want to always be surrounded by creativity.

Basically, I take it all day by day.

How Does Your Job Impact Your Family Life?

I am so thankful for my job because it usually has a positive impact on our family life. My kids and I see these projects as opportunities to spend time together and the recipes that I create in our kitchen are enjoyed by all at our family dinners. How many people get to craft all day long and call it work? Not many! It almost sounds too good to be true sometimes.

I have gotten to travel to places that I thought I would only read about in books, I got to fulfill a life goal to write a book, my kids have gotten to go to places we couldn’t have afforded, and I’ve met a lot of truly amazing men & women who blog that my life would have never crossed paths with.

rainbow_cake_in_a_jar

Let me be honest though, there are positive and negative aspects about my work. For example, since our holiday content is written months in advance, I am usually not sitting around making rainbow cakes with my kids on St. Patrick’s Day or being a super creative parent like I want to be. By the time the holidays roll around, they are usually lucky if I dye their milk green because we have already done those projects together ages ago and I am on to the next holiday.

Traveling can be hard especially when my jobs end up interfering with family events. One year I had to travel on my daughter’s birthday and I cried a lot over that. It didn’t matter that I had thrown three parties for her, I was not there on the actual day. Inevitably, some kid gets sick or they have a fancy holiday show and I am off promoting the latest product for a company or have a speaking engagement for my work that has been planned months in advance. I am thankful for Skype on days like those so that I can see their faces and feel like I am there. I am sure every working parent feels that way sometimes.

Operating at a frantic pace each week can also have negative impacts on me and my health. I was two years overdue for a lot of routine check-ups for myself this year, my stomach issues have increased, and there are times where I feel completely overwhelmed or just don’t want to do all of this. It is hard to escape your work when it is always there!

We are not celebrities by any stretch of the imagination, but our family does not have an anonymous life. Some of us thrive better than others with this and there are days where we miss that.

There are times where I want to be political or snarky, but I worry how that might reflect to my readers so it definitely censors me in my social media life.I am sure this is a good thing in the long run.

All in all, the positives have outweighed the negatives though. If it starts to turn the other direction, we will have to make a decision to continue or not as a family. We operate under the, “All for one, one for all,” family motto. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Have a question for me? Feel free to ask it!

 

Pin It

Freebie Friday: February 8, 2013 (A Podcast, Valentine’s Day Fun, & Take 5 Friday)

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! 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 am sharing how to cook & prepare spaghetti squash for your recipes, I’m sharing 7 apps to get your family organized (be sure to check the comments on that one for more ideas), you can read an interview about our family and hear more about my latest book, the weekly notebook is filled with DIY food & craft projects, and our weekly list of 180 great giveaways to enter.

I had the pleasure of being interviewed for The Kitchen Hour podcast about my new book and our family’s own cooking traditions and celebrations. Meagan is a wonderful friend of mine that also runs The Happiest Mom site and I was so excited to get to talk to her in this episode of The Kitchen Hour podcast. I hope you can set aside some time to take a listen! We had so much fun!

This week you can catch me over at the Kenmore bog sharing some special dishes and activities our family does to celebrate the Valentine’s Day holiday. Check out a few of my favorite easy and affordable ideas for celebrating this season of love!

I am so honored to be featured in the latest issue of Project You Magazine. Check out this FREE magazine dedicated to loving yourself! I just know you will love this magazine as much as I do and I am so honored to be in it this month!

Don’t forget to visit our Facebook page today for our new Take Five Fridays feature. Each Friday on the MomAdvice Facebook Page, I will be sharing five meal ideas to add to your planners each week and you can share your own ideas for your week. Feel free to link to any of your family favorites, share recipes you plan to try, or what you have on your plans for the week! Feel free to use our free menu planner printable for your week!

I’m heading over there now to get this week’s meal plan up for you! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, friends, and enjoy all of these fabulous freebies!

 

Health & Beauty

Entertainment

God’s Smuggler Audio-Download

Home

This Week’s Freebie Events

February 9th – 15th

9th - Barnes & Noble: Valentine’s Day Story Time, 11 am.

9th - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Chinese Dragon Puppet, 11 am – 3 pm.

9th - Lowe’s: Build a Wheel of Love, 10 am.

9th - Michael’s: Make Wilton Treat Pops, 1 pm – 3 pm.

9th – 14th – Pottery Barn: Valentine’s Day Letter Writing Station.

Pin It

Catch Me Today At the Next Book Signing (And An Interview With the Elkhart Truth)!

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

source: The Elkhart Truth

We were very excited to be featured in The Elkhart Truth today about my first book, “The Good Life for Less.”  The bonus for us, was getting to show off our incredible pizza-making skills to the photographer from the newspaper. I hope you can read a little bit more about our story and how special this book and moment is to our family.

Today I will be doing our last book signing in the Michiana area. You can catch me over at The Family Magazine office. I have set up a Facebook invitation for that event, so please head over there to RSVP if you will be able to make it. 

Lots of people have been asking if we will be visiting any other areas for signings. I am trying to organize a couple of additional cities so please stay tuned on that!  You can visit our Book Page to see what is happening, sign up for a newsletter for updates, and find retailers who are carrying the book!

Thank you again for all of your love and support for this project. We wouldn’t be here without you!

Pin It

Take Five Fridays Meal Plans

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Looking for inspiration for your menu plans? MomAdvice has you covered! Each Friday on the MomAdvice Facebook Page, I will be sharing five meal ideas to add to your planners each week and you can share your own ideas for your week. Feel free to link to any of your family favorites, share recipes you plan to try, or what you have on your plans for the week! Feel free to use our free menu planner printable for your week!

The first list is now posted and I can’t wait to share more in the upcoming weeks! While you are visiting on Fridays, be sure to check out our other weekly post, on Fridays, sharing the latest and greatest reads! We have a very active community of readers and I am sure it will inspire you to add a few new books to your library lists!

See you there!

Pin It

Come See What the Fuss Is All About (Or How the Surprise Was On Me!)

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Well, it’s official, The Good Life For Less is out in the world now! I have been so enjoying all of the photos that people have been tagging me in on Facebook with their copies of it! Can you believe all these amazing celebrities that are posing with my book? I can’t believe it myself!

I loved seeing these pictures being posted and then the comment threads that followed that got other people out there buying the book. That is truly the power of social media! I can’t imagine what it would be like to write a book and not get to see my friends with their copies of the book. It has been making my whole life.

My favorite siting yet was from two of my favorite bloggers, Claire & Lauren, over at TX M.I.L.K. It turns out even Willie Nelson likes my book… now I know that I have arrived.

The reviews have been rolling in on the book, which is so awesome to see!  I get so excited when I see the reviews being shared on Amazon & GoodReads from readers and my blogger friends have all been so generous to share about this book. Here are some of my favorite reviews so far!

Simplifying Meal Time (@ Dine & Dish)

The Good Life for Less Review (Hoosier Homemade)

Taking a Page Out of the Good Life for Less (Extraordinary Mommy)

Book Review: The Good Life for Less (This Full House)

The Good Life for Less (The Centsible Life)

The Good Life for Less (The Simple Moms)

The Good Life for Less (Beth’s Book-Nook Blog)

Review: The Good Life for Less (Northern Cheapskate)

The Good Life for Less: A Happiness Upgrade (Baby Toolkit)

The Good Life for Less (Hormone-Colored Days)

Review: The Good Life for Less (Mom’s Favorite Stuff)

Must Read: The Good Life for Less (Mom Generations)

I was over the moon with happiness and life was so darn good…and then I got the world’s worst stomach flu. I have not been this sick in years. Flat on my back, so dehydrated your eyes feel like sandpaper sick, the I’m cold, now I’m hot, now I’m shivering again sick. SO SICK. For an entire week.

I was dying and my husband was in a sheer panic about my sickness, but couldn’t let on how worried he was. Unbeknownst to me, he had been working for seven months with my best friend on the surprise party of all surprise parties to celebrate the launch of my first book and my 35th birthday.

We had a double date planned with my best friend and her husband for, what I believed to be, a silent auction. As my husband pushed me into the room, he whispered, “This is how much I love you.” Standing in the room were over 40 of our closest friends and family there to celebrate.

I have never had a celebration like that ever in my whole life. They rented a room at Legends for the big night, who catered all of the food for the event. He had been working with my publicist to have posters of my book made up for the evening, and the night of surprises wasn’t over.

1.)  He flew my brother in to be with me for the evening from New Orleans. I hadn’t seen him since last spring and I was beside myself with joy to have him there. This was a gift, not just for me, but for our entire family because we have missed him so much. He’s currently living out in New Orleans pursuing his dreams in the art world, and it was so special to have him there.

If you are into art or happen to live in New Orleans, please check out his Facebook page to find out how to commission a piece of art! It’s the Dark & Twisty Art of John Allen.

2) He managed to get my two childhood best friends to come in for the party. We are three busy women and it takes a near miracle to get the three of us together. I almost fell over when I saw them both there for the evening. Not many people can say that they have been friends since they were ten years-old and are still friends. These were my two best friends from church camp and we spent many a summer together that I will forever treasure in my heart.

3) Perhaps, the most amazing gift and demonstration of love ever given to me, my husband had been working since June, to teach himself how to DJ so he could be the DJ for my party.

We have been together since high school and I was infamous for making him a million mix tapes of songs for him and “ghetto mixes” once I became too “hood” for a traditional mix. Those mixed tapes were the inspiration for him to surprise me.

Ryan took all the music and those memories and managed to make that into the ultimate mix for me for my birthday, for a night of dancing with my girlfriends. It might sound a little corny to you, but I fell in love with him all over again. When you have been together since you were kids, it becomes hard to surprise each other anymore. To pull off three surprises? Unheard of.

In lieu of gifts, my friends remembered how important the Faith Mission Homeless Shelter was to our family. If you recall, a few years ago, we hosted a Big Give for the shelter. A wish list from the director of the shelter was given, and everyone worked on gathering donations to share with the women & children of that shelter. This was one of my favorite surprises of the night since caring for the homeless is such an important thing to our family. I can’t tell you how happy these gifts made me!

Behind every good man is a good woman. My best friend had been working tirelessly on throwing this amazing party for me with my husband. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have a friend like that and I try to never take it for granted. I am still shocked she could keep this a secret from me for that long when we talk for hours on the phone daily. She is my other “sister,” and I can’t imagine my life without her.

Of course, my friends wanted to spoil me a little bit and all had pitched in for a gift that I had been dreaming about for years and years. I now have the most beautiful and epic sounding record player and they gathered a record collection to get me started. The morning after the party, I sat in my favorite chair and listened to my Simon & Garfunkel record…weeping uncontrollably.

In the words of my mom, most people never know what they mean to people. It is usually at their funerals, that they say what a special person you are or what you have meant to them. Few people get such a demonstration during their life while they are still around.  

I remember when my husband’s grandma passed away and the way my mother-in-law’s friends orchestrated this amazing feast for all of us and took care of her in such a difficult time. As we climbed in the car to head home that day, I cried and said how happy I was that she had friends like that. The kind of friends that would just drop everything for you and take care of you like that. What would that even be like?

I know now. God put the perfect people in my life and gave me the most incredible friends in the world. They know and understand my heart, they have no jealousy for these major career milestones, they are so proud of what I do, and they are the first to say, “What do you need? What can we do to help?” when things go wrong.

More importantly, I am reminded how loved I am by my husband and by our family. I had stars in my eyes all night for my husband and what he did for me.

I am the luckiest girl in the whole world.

Tomorrow I have my first book signing at the Mishawaka Barnes & Noble. I’m so excited that my friends are even coming in from Chicago & Indy for this special day. I hope you will accept my heartfelt invitation to join me at this signing. I want to hug and thank every single person that has supported us over the years. It would mean so much to have you there! I hope I see you tomorrow from 2-4PM at Barnes & Noble in UP Mall (Mishawaka, IN).

As you can see, life has gotten a bit chaotic. I promise to try to get back in the swing of things soon, but in the meantime, I hope you will pick up my book to read our family’s story and get inspired to get your finances back on track! I know you are missing some features here so I wanted to update you and let you know that I am just having a little trouble juggling it all by myself. I hope this helps explain things a bit more.

Thank you for your love and support!!

(Party Photography: Brittani Renee Photography. Party Dress: Flourish Boutique)

 

 

 

 

The Good Life For Less #GNO Twitter Party (Tuesday 01/08)

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

I am so excited to get to be participating in my first Twitter Party with Mom It Forward to promote my new book, “The Good Life For Less.” As you can see, I am not happy about it  at all (ahem).

This virtual party will be hosted on January 8th from 9-10 PM ET and will give you the chance to participate in a great chat on frugality and how to truly achieve the good life for less with CELEBRITIES. Yes, I said it, the celebrities in my life happen to be the superstars in the frugal world.

I was asked to pick a few friends to help assist me with my talk. It wasn’t hard to think up a fantastic dream team panel, but to expect them to spend a Tuesday night on Twitter with me seemed impossible. Of course, you know you have awesome friends when they agree to do this for you to help promote your project. I want to give each of them a shout-out because ALL of their blogs should be on your must-read lists!

Savings Lifestyle (Andrea Deckard)

With a motto like, “Save on what you need. Spend on what you want,” you know that you are in for a real treat! Stay up-to-date on coupons, savings at the grocery store, take advantage of great freebies, and learn to achieve a beautiful life for less. Andrea is an all-around fantastic person and I am so lucky to call her my friend!

Hoosier Homemade (Liz Latham)

If you aren’t following the Hoosier Homemade you are missing out on a real treat..and I mean treat. She is famous for her cupcake skills, but is also an all around jack-of-all-trades when it comes to making a beautiful home for less. You will absolutely love this site and did I mention that she is a fellow Hoosier girl?

Deal Seeking Mom (Tara Kuczykowski)

If you coupon, you know my friend, Tara! Tara has a fantastic coupon site filled with just about every deal on the internet. It is a site I reference frequently when making my purchases and I highly recommend you do too. The best part? She is one of the sweetest people I know.

Frugal Upstate (Jenn Fowler)

If you are looking for a blog that truly gets back to the basics of frugality and achieving the good life for your family for less, you will definitely want to visit Jenn’s blog. It has everything you need from menu planning advice, great recipes to share around the table, and fantastic DIY projects. Jenn knows a lot about a frugality and is a trusted frugal resource for me!

The Happy Housewife (Toni Anderson)

If you want to know anything about anything, than I am sure you are familiar with my friend Toni and her site, “The Happy Housewife.” This website has everything from how to manage your home, how to manage your family budget,  how to feed your family, how to score the best deals at the grocery store, and even advice on homeschooling your kids. I guarantee that once you start browsing this site, that you will lose many hours in your day just soaking all of that knowledge in. I adore Toni and am so thankful to call her my friend!

Party Topic

Join Amy Allen Clark (that’s me!)  who is the author of The Good Life for Less@MomItForward, and our panel of experts as we chat about frugal living. The party will be held on Tuesday, January 8 from 9-10 p.m. ET (8CT, 7MT, 6PT)Click here to see details about the giveaway and enter for a chance to win.

Party Details

Jot down some questions that you would like to ask us and be prepared for a fun night on frugality. I am so excited to be giving away more books and also would love to acquaint you with our new Book Landing Page where you can grab all the information you need about my book, sign up for our new newsletter, and find out where I am headed for book signings! 

I’m also excited to share that Mom It Forwardwill be covering ideas from, “The Good Life for Less,” in a four part series! How cool is that? Visit the site to learn more about our frugal journey and what you will find in the book!

I never made it out of my pajamas yesterday because I just sat at my computer in complete awe at the stir that all of you created with this book. Pictures were being posted all over IG and Facebook of you running out to buy your copies at your local bookstores, the shares from my family’s big day at the bookstore went completely viral, and the words from people who had already read it… There are just no words to how overwhelmed with emotion we were.I am just a gal, in a small town in Indiana, preaching a little message about simple living and I never dreamed that we would be experiencing a moment like this. Thank you all for your love and support of this project! I could not do it without you! The Amazon sales rocked my world yesterday as well as all of those beautiful pictures of you heading to your stores to make my dreams come true! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Looking forward to chatting more at the Twitter party!

Pin It

Our Top 12 Posts of 2012

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

What a wonderful year 2012 was for our site and our family. MomAdvice continues to grow & I can’t wait to share with your our best posts of this year.  Today I wanted to highlight our top 12 posts from 2012.

Do I thank you enough around here? I never feel like my thanks is sufficient enough for all of your love and support for us. 

Thank you for sharing our site with others.

Thank you for your continued support.

Thank you for your comments.

I can’t tell you what they mean to me.

Here are the top 12 posts that happened on MomAdvice this year:

1. How to Dye A Faded Pair Of Jeans

Our top post this year, by a LONG shot, was my tutorial on how to dye your old jeans. With over 205,000 views, this one went viral and that box of Rit fabric dye was, perhaps, the best purchase of the entire year! Not only did I get a “new” pair of jeans, but this post grabbed the attention of a lot of new readers that were looking for some ways to freshen up a few tired pieces in their closet. This tutorial explains a variety of methods of dying your clothing and the comment stream continues to grow as readers share their own success stories with fabric dying.

2. How To Be a Pinterest Superstar

I am so excited to see that my guidance on growing your blogs through Pinterest proved to be valuable information to other bloggers. In this article, I share everything I have learned about getting your content and readership to grow through Pinterest. If your New Year’s goal is to harness the power of Pinterest, I can’t recommend this article enough for growing your audience. 

3. Rainbow Cake in a Jar With Cloud Frosting

Anything in a jar, to me, is absolutely delightful and delicious. For the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, I share a recipe for making beautiful little rainbow cakes in a jar and my recipe for a perfectly fluffy cloud of frosting to top these festive little cakes. The best part is that  these can be made from items you already have lurking in your pantry!

4. The Good Life For Less

Well, the excitement around here must be contagious because our 4th most popular page this year is for my first book, “The Good Life For Less.” I’m so excited to share that it is now available on store shelves! I would be, of course, be honored if you bought a copy and I am so excited that this was one of your top destinations this year on the site!

5. How to Ditch Your Cable Bill

Oh, we were a radical bunch this year as we said goodbye to our family’s astronomical satellite television bill. Apparently, I’m not the only one who wanted to say goodbye to it because this was a frequently visited article for many of our readers. After a year without cable, I can’t tell you how much happier we are. We are especially enjoying the savings we are experiencing by changing the way we watch television.

6. The World’s Greatest Homemade Bubbles Recipe

If there is one thing my kid’s love, it is this homemade bubble recipe. Neighbor kids flock to our home in awe of their super awesomeness and moms will be begging for your secret. This super easy recipe was a popular one on the site and replicated in many a home!

7. Slow Cooker Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

This recipe was created and has been devoured in my home weekly since its development. If you crave a thick & hearty soup filled with brown rice, veggies, and a tomato broth, then this soup is the one for you! This was a popular one for many of our readers with food allergies and I am excited that we were able to cater to that need a bit this year.

8. How To Make Glow-In-The-Dark JELL-O Jars

Science project plus edible treat? This is a win-win situation, people! This post got so much love that JELL-O even featured it on their site (which thrilled me to no end!) My kids got a kick out of making this treat for Halloween and we loved sharing the science behind their spooky glow.

9. The Best Books Read in 2012

 

I absolutely love sharing my reading lists each year and I can’t wait to continue sharing book reviews with you in the upcoming year. I take this list so seriously that it keeps me up at night the night before, worrying that I made the wrong picks for you guys. I have been getting oodles of messages though, from many of you, sharing how much you have already been enjoying off of this reading list. I am already tackling the next round of books, as we speak, for another “best of” list for next year!

10. Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Who wants to buy stuff you can make? That is why you come here, of course! My homemade enchilada sauce recipe is one of my favorite DIY creations in the kitchen. Once you make this enchilada sauce, you will never buy that jarred stuff again!  If you haven’t tried this recipe yet, I highly recommend it!

11. How to Knit Great Chemo Caps for Charity

I have, sadly, knitted far more chemo caps for people I know than I would have ever wanted to this year. If you are a knitter and looking for some tips on making really great chemo caps (that will actually be worn) than this post is just the post you will need to get started. I share everything I have learned from selecting the right yarns, to selecting the right patterns, to adding a little “sparkle” to your hats. I am so happy to see that this was a post that you have been referencing!

12. How to Make a Homeless Care Package

 

Last, but certainly not least, our Homeless Care Package post was our final top post of the year. We were so excited to be able to create these homeless care packages for those in need in our area and we shared a free printable list of supplies as well as a local resources sheet that other families could use to replicate our giving this year. Our family made giving to charity one of our top priorities this year and we look forward to giving back more to those in need in 2013.

 

What would you like to see featured in 2013 on our site? I would love to hear your ideas for posts as I begin planning my editorial calendar for the year!

Pin It

The Good Life For Less Hits Store Shelves

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

I can think of no better way to start the New Year than to see your very own book sitting on a bookshelf. We made a family field trip over to our local Barnes & Noble to take a peek at my book on the shelves. It is both exciting and completely surreal at the same time. In all my life, I never imagined this moment would ever happen. We are simply OVER THE MOON with excitement.

We created enough of a scene with our shutter happiness that another couple headed to the checkout counter with one of my books in their hand and tracked me down to sign their book.

Chad & Angie, if you happen to see this picture, know that this made the moment even more special for our family.

One of us may have been a little confused about what exactly we were celebrating. Emily insisted on wearing her fabulous NYE accessories for our outing. I felt like I was with a real life Ramona Quimby as she stomped her feet and tooted her New Year’s horn all through the Barnes & Noble parking lot and screamed…

“MY MOMMY’S AN AUTHOR!!!!!”

Who could ever refuse a joyful noise like that?

Many more details soon on some exciting booking signings and events happening (maybe in your area!) Be sure to head over to this week’s giveaway where we are giving away 5 signed copies of THE GOOD LIFE FOR LESS.

 

 

Pin It

Giveaway Closed: 5 Autographed Copies of, “The Good Life For Less!”

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

Sorry! This giveaway is now closed! We would like to congratulate our five winners!  Sheri (#128), Elaine (#41), Renee (#148), Carrie (#201), &  Michelle (#32) on winning these books! Thank you again for entering and your love & support for this book!

 

This is a big week for our family as my book, “The Good Life for Less,” will be hitting bookstore shelves on January 2nd. I have waited so many years for this book of my words to be printed and I can think of no better way to start the year than with this big moment in our life.

I know my readers are very frugal (that is why you are here, after all!) so I wanted to share with you a little bit about why this book would be a great investment for your bookshelf and also offer you the opportunity to win a copy of it to save your family the expense of buying it!

 

Photo Credit: Nancy Lary Studios

Here is a little bit more background on what my book and family is all about:

THE GOOD LIFE FOR LESS is about thrifty homemaking with heart. As a Walmart Mom and spokesperson for companies like Kenmore and Minute Maid, I am sharing the tricks and tips our family has adopted to help other families create a quality life while being able to stay within budget. Filled with clever ideas for families living on a budget, THE GOOD LIFE FOR LESS provides guidance, tools, and inspiration to run happy households, such as:

  • Create a family budget book to track what money goes where, and utilize one of the free financial programs out there, such as Mint.com, to find spending leaks, or try out your spending habits by adopting the envelope system or a cash-only approach to spending. One way to jump-start your savings is by paying for everything with bills, and accumulating the change into a savings account.
  • Take advantage of online freebies such as Ebates.com and Swagbucks.com to find discounts and bonuses for shopping for necessities.
  • Delicious and affordable recipes such as rosemary ranch chicken kabobs, baked blueberry donuts with a lemon glaze, Italian veggie and pasta soup, and parmesan crusted pork chops that stretch every cent and utilize the efficient tools in your kitchen, such as the slow-cooker, to enable you more time with your kids instead of behind the stove.
  • Many people take advantage of the layaway programs featured at retailers, but also try to buy in bulk, shop off-season, and subscribe to daily deal sites, so your budget won’t take such a hit around the holidays. Buying in bulk lets you save money and pay less than at the grocery store, especially for meat, which you can divide up into 1 or 2 pound packages and freeze.
  • Take a look at your bills and utilities; be sure there is no double billing (perhaps a credit card got swiped twice at a register). If everyone in your house has a cell phone, do you really need a traditional landline plan, or could you switch to a nearly free provider like Vonage. Know what your appliances cost; one easy way to save on gas bills is to do your laundry with cold water, which cuts between 50-90% off a load of wash using hot water.

THE GOOD LIFE FOR LESS will give you this and more information, tools, and inspiration to maximize every cent of the family paycheck.

By living leaner, you and your family will gain financial stability, and as I state in my book, “living frugally has made me so much more aware of our family’s every blessing, great and small. It’s a richness that money can’t buy.” Empowering your family with the knowledge to make the best financial decisions will only bring you closer together, and give you even more enjoyment out of the time you spend together.

Photo Credit: Nancy Lary Studios

Today I want to share with you the opportunity to win a signed copy of my book. I will be giving away 5 copies this week in celebration of my book launch and to thank you all for your love and support of us over the last nine years. 

To enter to win a signed copy of, “The Good Life For Less“:

• First Entry: Leave a comment and tell me why you need this book in your life!

• Additional Entry: Let us know you are a fan of MomAdvice and join the MomAdvice Facebook Community.

• Additional Entry: Follow me on Twitter and stay up-to-date on current book promotions, giveaways, and advice on living a frugal life.

• Additional Entry: Fan my Author Profile on GoodReads or add my book to your to-be-read pile.

Five winners, chosen at random, will receive a signed copy of my first book.  Please submit your entries by Tuesday (01/08) at 8PM EST. Our winner will be drawn at random. Good luck, everyone! We are so thankful for each of you!

 

Pin It

National Blogging Day of Remembrance

Monday, December 17th, 2012