Archive for the ‘Money & Finance’ Category

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

I am so excited to share with you these DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions I made today for our kitchen. While we have loved the aesthetics of our metal chairs in our kitchen, some of the bony bottoms in this house haven’t wanted to spend too much time in them. Lest you feel lead astray, it is not my rear that is struggling, thanks to a healthy dose of Sir Mix-A-Lot genes. I just get to hear from other people in my house about their discomforts.

Since I don’t sew (and struggle with exactness and measuring of materials) I wanted to create a DIY chair cushion to comfy up your metal chairs AND I wanted that chair cushion to be able to have two prints so we could switch them around. Not only does this give you two choices, but if you get tired of the print, you can reuse your cushion materials inside and recover them again with a fresh print.

I don’t want to brag, but I also think these are SUPER cute too!

Grab your glue guns and let’s get to work!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed (everything including these gorgeous fabrics are found at Walmart!!)

Your choice of matching Waverly Inspirations Fabric (measure the dimensions of your chairs to figure out your yardage)

Trim (I purchased two yards for each chair, but this will also depend on your own chair size!)

Fabric Glue

Fabric Rotary Cutter

Rotary Mat

Hot Glue Gun & glue sticks

Foam Cushion

Scissors

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

Directions for No-Sew Chair Cushions

1. Begin by place a large piece of parchment over your chair seat to create a template of the sizing of the seat of your chair. Mine had a lip that outlined around it that I followed for tracing. Cut this out and use this as your guide for cutting your foam. Using scissors, cut to the size of your template (Note- if you are worried about your template holding up, you can trace it on heavier paper and then use that as your guide).

2. Grab one of your fabrics and place the foam cushion on top. Cut (with your rotary cutter and on your mat) around the cushion, giving yourself 2″ of wiggle room around the cushioning. Repeat this same step with your second piece of fabric.

3.  Now it is time to glue your pieces. You want one fabric with the print out and one fabric on top with the print in. We will be turning these inside out once they are dry so you want to be sure your fabric is facing the correct direction. Also be mindful what direction your print is going so you can repeat that on each cushion.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

4. Using your fabric glue, glue around the entire square, leaving an opening to slide in your cushion on one side. Repeat this on all of your cushions. Set the cushions aside and let them dry for 24 hours.

5. The next day, carefully open up and turn the cushion covers to the right side. Slide your foam cushion in and then either sew the opening with a needle and thread or (this is my lazy girl way!) line up the fabrics folding it in to match and hot glue that seam shut.

6. Grab your trim and carefully apply your hot glue and then secure your trim. Do this all the way around your cushion. If you have any excess, line the cushion up and figure out where to secure a tie (or two!) for it. You can either secure this to the cushion with a bit of hot glue or you can grab a heavy thread and needle and stitch it to the back.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

I hope these fun cushions bring your bony butts as much joy as they have to our house. We all agree that this also warms up the space a bit and makes it feel a little more homey. I added these coordinating pillows to the end chairs to add a little more warmth to them.

Do you want more fabric craft inspiration? Try these!

How to Make a Blanket Scarf

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

 

DIY Snack Station

Monday, August 15th, 2016

diy-snack-station

This post has been sponsored by Jack Link’s in partnership with Ahalogy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When I became a mom, I began to realize the beauty in one-handed snacks. When my babies were small, I had a hard time holding a baby and feeding myself so I created a basket of one-handed snacks that would keep me fueled throughout the day.

Now that my kids are older, you would think that I would have loads more time to care for myself.  I have found though that although my children aren’t necessarily as demanding as they were, their activity schedule certainly is. I am still struggling to keep myself fueled as we run from activity to activity.

If you struggle with keeping yourself AND your kids fueled, I wanted to share with you a fun snack station we created to encourage ALL of us to grab healthy snacks more regularly. This diy snack station was made with a basic small bar cart and is fully stocked for our whole family.

DIY Snack Station Tutorial

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I headed to my local superstore to gather up four metal pails that had chalkboard labels on front for our little diy snack station and found this sweet little bar cart on summer clearance for 75% off. This is the perfect time to stock up on this summer entertaining accessory and keep it on budget for your family.

We then headed on over to Kroger  (check out the store locator to find one near you!) to grab some healthy options for our snack cart. The beauty in the chalkboard labeling is that you can switch snacks based on what’s in season, what’s on sale, or what you are craving that week. Have your kids be in charge of the labeling to work on mastering their spelling!

Our four pails had bananas (separated for easy grabbing), raisins/nut mixes, Jack Link’s in a few varieties, and crackers with peanut butter. On the bottom tier, I added apples and oranges, a variety of flavored waters, and some fun straws for sipping.

diy-snack-station (2)

Snacks with lots of protein are my favorite because they stop the HANGRY from coming on.

Tell me that you know a little about hangry moments too please! I need to know I’m not alone in this!

As someone who fights low blood sugar (as do my children), I have found that protein keeps me from fighting those sugar highs and lows.

Beef jerky can be a great protein-filled option and Jack Link’s is protein-packed with a whopping 12 grams of protein.  I like that you don’t have to be limited to just one flavor because it comes in tons of varieties. From the soy and ginger combo in Teriyaki, to a layer of coarse pepper in their Peppered option, to the smoky mesquite flavoring of their Original turkey, to the bold and savory offerings of their Jack Link’s Original. We are big fans of these options for keeping the hangry at bay.

diy-after-school-snack-station-12

For a sweet and savory combo, pair your jerky with fresh fruit for a balanced snack. Bananas always offer a good bang for your buck, apples can be sliced for eating on-the-go, and easy-to-peel clementine’s are always a big favorite in our house. Be sure to look for fruit that is on season for the most affordable (and freshest) options.

We are also really big fans of flavored waters in our house. It makes drinking water a little bit more fun.

A pretty papered straw doesn’t hurt either. What can I say? I am a blogger and paper straws are kind of a requirement over here.

diy-after-school-snack-station

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We hope this post inspires you to create a snack station for your own family! We are thankful to have one at our house as we head back to the grind of school and activities. It is so nice to know that one-handed snacks are on hand for life’s busy moments!

This post has been sponsored by Jack Link’s in partnership with Ahalogy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Did You Check For Your Amazon Money Yet? It’s Also a Really Good Day For Kindle Deals!

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

kindle-deals

I don’t post too many deal posts around here, but today’s book deals were just too good to pass up especially because you might be the proud owner of some FREE MONEY right now thanks to the company settling a $400 million e-book lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed against Apple Inc. and five publishing companies for their roles in an alleged e-book price-fixing scheme, according to Hagens Berman, a class-action litigation firm. Eligible customers made e-book purchases between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012 and were entitled to a settlement for their purchases. According to the terms of the settlement, consumers will receive a $6.93 credit for every e-book which was a New York Times bestseller, and a $1.57 credit for other e-books. To see if you have credit, check HERE first (you want to be sure to do this because there is an expiration!!).

 

If you have credit, it will appear like this.

amazon-lawsuit-credit

If you don’t, you will see this message: “There is no eBook settlement credit associated with this account.”

Since I am a proud library supporter, I only had a whopping, $8.50, but I know many of my friends have had upwards of $200 in credit!! Come back and tell me if you had anything in your accounts, bookworms!

Every day I post all the best Kindle deals in our Book Club group. If you haven’t joined yet (no strings attached, free & fun!!), it is bookworm central and a great place to chat about books.

Today there are some INCREDIBLE deals on bestsellers that I didn’t want you to miss so I am sharing them here while you have a little credit burning a hole in your pocket!

those_who_save_us

My Recommendations for Spending That Kindle Credit

Here are some incredible deals that are happening today that, I believe, are smart investments for that Kindle credit!!

JUST MERCY, $3.99

PRETTY GIRLS, $1.99

THE ORPHAN’S OF RACE POINT, $1.99

BEHAVE, $1.99

THE ONE-IN-A-MILLION BOY, $2.99

THOSE WHO SAVE US, $2.99

FATHER’S DAY, $1.99

THE COVE, $1.99

THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY, $1.99

GIRL ON A WIRE, $1.99

THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN, $1.99

THE REVISED FUNDAMENTALS OF CAREGIVING, $1.99

THE SLEEPWALKER’S GUIDE TO DANCING, $1.99

THE DRESSMAKER’S WAR, $1.99

LEARNING TO SWIM, $1.99

WHEN THE MOON IS LOW, $1.99

WHAT THE WAVES KNOW, $1.99

LILY & THE OCTOPUS, $1.99-

THE ROWAN TREE- FREE!!

BEAUTIFUL LIES, $1.99

BENDING TOWARD THE SUN, $.99

STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD, $1.99

HANOVER HOUSE- FREE!!

THE MOON IN THE PALACE, $1.99

LOVE THE ONE YOUR WITH, $2.99

THE COLOR PURPLE, $2.99

THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE, $1.99

FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS, $1.99

THE WITNESS, $4.99

REBECCA, $1.99

THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL, $1.99

THE STORYTELLER, $1.99

FROG MUSIC, $1.99

This post contains affiliate links!

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite sleepovers ever included a beautiful breakfast buffet for us in the morning. The parents got up early to make stacks of waffles and laid out a variety of toppings to make our own waffle creation. It was the stuff that little girl’s dreams are made of,  piled high with whipped cream, strawberries, and unlimited syrup.

I want to be that mom who rises early and makes these sleepover dreams come true, but often I am the mom dragging her tail out of bed after telling the kids to PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE, GO TO SLEEP IT IS THREE IN THE MORNING mom.

Are you her too?

That’s why I wanted to create a REALISTIC buffet that can be made in advance so you can just stumble into kitchen, put everything on the table, and curl up with a cup of coffee in bed with a little sweet silence.

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

Today I am partnering with  Florida Department of Citrus to show you how to make this fun make-ahead sleepover breakfast buffet table complete with glasses of  FLOJ for everyone at the party.  Although waffle parties are fun, I wanted to create a healthy breakfast complete with a glass of Florida Orange Juice that provides 5 amazing nutrients in every glass for our guests. Not only are we loading our table with fresh fruit, but we are also getting, in just one single 8-ounce glass of 100% orange juice,  our daily recommended serving of fruit! Winning!

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

Instead of spending your morning flipping pancakes, take a peek at my make-ahead recipe for breakfast burritos. This recipe yields eighteen delicious burritos and you can even make them gluten-free with the use of a gluten-free wrap. They are filled with eggs, turkey sausage, spiced potatoes, and cheese- yum!

Make these ahead and tuck them in your fridge or use these instructions for popping them in the freezer until the morning. The beauty in this one is that no matter what time they rise, each person can have a hot breakfast!

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

I made a simple breakfast bar with burrito toppings like olives, sour cream tomatoes, avocado, salsa, and sriracha. You can just chop and set this in the fridge on a cookie sheet for the big morning.  

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

Make-Ahead Sleepover Breakfast Buffet from MomAdvice.com

 

After warming their burritos, they can fill it with all of their favorites or simply put the toppings on top and dig in with a knife and fork.

Putting this spread together took me under an hour, even with all the chopping, and the best part is that I got to enjoy a hot cup of coffee even with a house full of kids. WINNING!

Thank you so much to Florida Department of Citrus for letting us share a make-ahead buffet with you. Be sure to kick back a glass of FLOJ for us and may your bedhead game be as strong as your coffee.


This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

The Unexpected Blessings of Simple Living

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(pillow here)

Thirteen years ago we began a journey towards living a simpler life due to a financial crisis in our lives. It was through an absolute need, not necessarily a desire, that we began making smarter financial choices. Back then, it meant saving everything and penny pinching. Later, our simple living evolved into a wish to live minimalistically, clutter free, and to make smarter choices with our money.

It has been a path that started out hard and then became habit.

I don’t think as much about it because, for us, it feels instinctual.

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We have had the privilege of watching so many we love move into larger homes and embrace some of those finer things in life. There was a time that I would have been jealous, but now my happiness is genuine for them. Amy Poehler says it best in her book, “Good for her! Not for me!”

I am proud to live in our little fixer upper, drive our old cars, and have less in my life to maintain.

But, I have never been more thankful for the choices we have made more until this year. As I have shared, my health went into a downward spiral this year and I found myself, many days, struggling to even leave my bed.  A very healthy and active woman, this sudden decline in my health was difficult for me and for my family. Although I was overwhelmed with doctor’s appointments, medications, and struggles with understanding my new illness, I was not overwhelmed with the other areas in my life because we have lived simply.

Here are a few unexpected blessings I have discovered from our simple living routines..

I’m Thankful for My Smaller Home

My home is just the right size for us at 1,500 square feet. Years ago, I considered this home to be a starter house that we would eventually sell and leave for a larger house with more room. Now, I marvel at my friends who are able to keep up with their larger homes.  Although I worry about having so many stairs in our house, due to my joint problems, I did not ever feel overwhelmed with keeping up with our home because of its modest size.

I was able to keep up with everything pretty easily, even on my worst days this year,  and cutting our cable freed up our money to have a cleaning service assist me twice a month. Once again, the cost of a cleaning service felt manageable because of the small space we had to have cleaned.

Now I would never want anything bigger than this and going through this has made it more than crystal clear, my house size is just right for me.

I’m Thankful We Declutter Regularly

There was a time where I felt it was frugal to keep everything. What if we might need this someday? What if I could repurpose this into something else? These past few years though, I have learned the beauty of letting go and even have discovered how wonderful it is when clutter is cleared for unexpectedly awesome spaces. I am ruthless about editing things now and almost weekly have things to donate. Thanks to this, maintaining and straightening up the house was easy and manageable.

If my house was filled with stuff, I can’t imagine how sad and overwhelmed I would have felt to have it surrounding me during an emotionally difficult time. Clutter-free spaces bring me a lot of peace and joy. I am so thankful that we made this commitment to keep only what we truly love in our home.

That is not to say that we don’t have spaces that need attention or drawers that couldn’t use a good weeding out. There is enough around here to keep me busy for years, BUT it does mean that those spaces all feel very manageable and I know that when I feel better, I can resume editing even more again.

I’m Thankful for My Commitment to Not Overschedule

I can’t imagine what I would have done this year if I had my kids in millions of activities. We have always told them to take one sport commitment seriously and that they can take on an instrument.  I don’t like being overscheduled and my kids seem to embrace that mindset too. Thankfully, there was very little running that I needed to do for them because of our commitment to keep our kids (and ourselves) on manageable schedules. I don’t know if things can always be this way, but I am grateful they were this way now.

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I’m Thankful I Have a Well-Edited Closet

The capsule wardrobe project (Project 333) really began because I thought it would be a fun thing to explore creatively. I love a good creative challenge and I am passionate about fashion (as much as a good ol’ Indiana girl can be!). I never realized the unexpected blessings that would come from it when I was not feeling well though. When something in your life feels overwhelming, it’s nice to not have to think too hard about basic things. When I open my closet, I feel very confident about the choices I make and I don’t miss that feeling of being overwhelmed with an overstuffed closet. Not only did it free up mind space, but I have a heck of a lot less laundry to do to. This creative project for me has turned into something that I can’t imagine not having in my life.

I’m Thankful We Pretend My Income Mostly Doesn’t Exist

We live well below our means and sock away almost all of the money that I earn in our savings. My income only exists if we have saved enough for a major household project or for the occasional vacation.  I was struggling to sit at my desk for long periods of time and typing was extremely difficult for me so I was only able to maintain my existing jobs and I wasn’t able to take on any new freelance projects. Thankfully, we live below our means and have only considered my income as an unexpected blessing for our savings. I  missed working creatively, but I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if I couldn’t work and we needed that money for our daily expenses especially if we bit off more than we could chew financially. I am so grateful that we have savings because there was a time where we were knee-deep in debt and I would have never been able to take a break, even if my health wasn’t its best.

I’m Thankful I Embraced Some Smart Shopping Habits

As silly as it sounds, I was really thankful for a couple of things that I shipped to our house regularly so I didn’t have to think about it. Grove sent me all of our toiletries and household cleaners each month that saved me a lot of time at our grocery store. I also did Prime Pantry for my unreal amount of supplements I now have to take. I set up a schedule that we had what we needed when it ran out and it saved me countless amounts of hours over the months to not have to hit natural food stores or run out to a wholesale store to get what we needed. It all just showed up on my doorstep.

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(book bag here)

I’m Thankful I Had a Good Escape Every Single Day

Never have I been thankful to be a reader more than I am now. I consider reading one of the ultimate simple living pleasures and I would, dare say, that books have been an unexpected crutch during this difficult time. Unable to craft, knit, type… I felt a little lost. I escaped this time often through a good book. I can’t imagine my life without good books and this escape helped me so much when I was unable to do much else. Thank you, amazing library system!

Not only did books provide comfort, but I’m finding joy in new routines. Walks with a neighbor or a good walk with my husband, a good hot yoga class, a little dabbling in meditation, hot baths in epsom salts, and the always reliable glass of wine after a hard day.

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I’m Thankful I Married the Right Guy

You know when people make their marriage look awesome for social media, but it’s really falling apart? Yeah. I don’t have that kind of marriage. My husband might be mortified that I am sharing this, but I have never been more thankful that I have someone this incredible to help our family through this.  He didn’t know what he was signing up for, but he has pulled through in really big ways. He helps us stay on track with our simple living routines,  he works hard when I am not able to pull my weight, and he has been my best friend since we were kids. I’m so thankful I married the right guy.

I’m Thankful I’m a Work in Progress

Our simple life isn’t perfect and I can see the glaring errors of things I need to work on. I need to rely more on simple meals. I need to say yes when friends ask if they can help me instead of defaulting to no. I need to decline doing things when I am not feeling well. I need to let my family help me more. I need to stop being so angry at God about how hard things have become. I need to let go of some of my perfectionistic ways.

All that said, I have never been more aware how lucky we are to live the way we do and I wanted to share that with you today!

What are some of your biggest blessings you have found from living a more simple life?

How to Make Bubble Snakes

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

How to Make Bubble Snakes from MomAdvice.com

These Indiana girls couldn’t be happier that summer is around the corner and today we wanted to show you how to make bubble snakes with our homemade diy bubble recipe. If you haven’t tried our bubble recipe, you are in for the best bubbles ever this year. This fun activity is brought to you in partnership with Tum-E Yummies today.

Have you made your own bubbles or a bubble snake before? If you haven’t, you are going to be amazed at the difference in this solution versus what you buy at the store and the staying power of your bubble snake. Not only are making bubbles and bubble snakes fun, but they are also a lesson in science.

According to Steve Spangler Science, “Bubbles form because of the surface tension of water. Hydrogen atoms in one water molecule are attracted to oxygen atoms in other water molecules. They like each other so much, they cling together. When you blow air through your Bubble Snake maker, you are creating hundreds of tiny bubbles. As the air wiggles through the fabric, bubbles are continuously being made. The bubbles attach to each other when they come out of the fabric. It’s all thanks to the same hydrogen bonds that make bubbles possible!”

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t really understand the science behind bubble making. I love a bit of science with our crafts. Let’s get mixing!

How to Make Bubble Snakes

How to Make Bubble Snakes from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

Dishwashing liquid soap

Glycerin (we found this behind the pharmacist’s counter at our local superstore. Can also sometimes be found in the first aid supplies section)

Pitcher (we love the kind with a plunger to mix the bubbles)

Liquid Food Coloring

1 plastic bottle

Box Cutter

An old sock or a washcloth (secured with a rubberband) Bubble tray or a disposable plate or bowl

DIY Bubbles Recipe from MomAdvice.com

1. Mix up your homemade bubble solution in your pitcher (recipe below). We halved our recipe to fit in this two quart pitcher, but you can definitely mix up a full gallon too. Set aside.

How to Make Bubble Snakes from MomAdvice.com

2. Today, we are using a Tum-E Yummies container for the base of the craft, so let your kids drink their favorite flavor to get the container ready to be used! If your kids haven’t tried these, they are fruit flavored waters that come in five flavors (Very Berry Blue, Greentastic Apple, Fruitabulous Punch, Orange-arific, and Sour-sational Raspberry). Each of these have 100% daily value vitamin C, B6, B12 and only 50 calories and 13g of sugar. You can be assured, you will need all those vitamins for the bubble blowing that will be happening once we are done creating this craft!

3. Take a box cutter and carefully remove the bottom of the container. Once this is removed, secure a sock or a washcloth (secured with a rubber band) over the newly opened end.

4. Take your liquid food coloring and create a stripe of each color (red, yellow, green, and blue) across the bottom of the sock or washcloth. The more you add to the bottom, the more vibrant the colors.

5. Dip the rainbow end into the bubble solution. Be sure to get a good soak of bubbles on it to create your snake.

6. Blow on the other end of the container to blow out that colorful bubble snake. Be sure to stress to your kids to not suck in their breath (who wants to swallow bubbles? yuck!).

How to Make Bubble Snakes from MomAdvice.com How to Make Bubble Snakes from MomAdvice.com

 

How fun is that? I guarantee amazing bubble snakes with our diy recipe! While you are at it, be sure to purchase some big wands for this fun project. You really won’t believe how big these bubbles are or how long they hold their shape before popping.

How to Make Bubble Snakes from MomAdvice.com

A huge thank you to Tum-E Yummies for partnering with me to create this fun summer activity idea. You can find these flavored waters in many convenience stores, grocery stores, and drugstores. My kids really did love this fun twist on water and I know they will make a fun addition to our pool bags this summer after a long day of swimming!

DIY Bubble Recipe
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Keep these items on hand to make bubbles all summer long. You won't believe the size or the staying power of this amazing solution.
Ingredients
  • 1 gallon water
  • ⅔ cup dishwashing soap
  • 2-3 tbsp. glycerin
Instructions
  1. Mix all these ingredients in a container. DONE!

For more fun family ideas, follow Tum-E Yummies on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!

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10 Top Grocery Hacks for Busy Moms

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

How to save money on groceries is one of the most common questions I get, so I’m happy that Andrea Woroch is sharing these 10 terrific grocery-saving tips with us that anyone can do!

10 Grocery Hacks for Busy Moms

It’s common knowledge that cooking every meal at home is a surefire way to reduce money spent on food, but finding the time is usually the biggest battle families face. Most nights, it’s just so much easier to pick-up prepared food or order take out when you’re shuttling from school to soccer practice to dance recital.

And, forget about clipping coupons or driving around town to hunt down the best grocery sales—what busy mom has time for that? Luckily, there are a few simple grocery shopping and meal prep strategies that you can follow to reduce spending on food while keeping everyone in your family healthy and satisfied, and keeping you sane.

Read on for my top grocery hacks to keep food on the table and more money in your vacation fund!

Newspaper inserts

1. Browse weekly circulars- digitally.

Creating meal plans based on sales cycles featured in your grocery store circulars is the premier way to save money on meals. However, you don’t have to settle for the Sunday inserts to find out what’s on sale this week; you can also scan weekly ads digitally using Flipp. This website and mobile app features the latest circulars from grocers, drugstores and big-box stores, ranging from Albertsons to Sprouts to Walmart.

2. Print the coupons you need.

Reviewing Sunday circulars for manufacturer’s coupons is a tried-and-true method for saving on groceries, but who has the time for such a tedious task? Instead, consult your grocery list and search for specific brand coupons online through sites like CouponSherpa.com. For example, you can currently find $3 off Tide PODS from Kroger, $1 off any two boxes of Cheerios, and $1 off any one-pound package of Jennie-O turkey breast. You can even find savings for fresh produce like cucumbers using healthy offers grocery coupons.

Ibotta app

3. Use money-saving apps.

Cash-back apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 are great tools to save money during your grocery trips. Walmart’s Savings Catcher takes the work out of comparing circulars between grocers, offering store credit whenever something you purchased is advertised for less elsewhere. And Target’s Cartwheel offers additional savings on rotating products, some of which can be applied after purchase if a coupon becomes available within a certain timeframe. In most cases, these apps only require a couple minutes of your time, which you can easily spare while waiting in line at checkout. (Bonus: using these apps will keep you from any impulse buys at checkout, too!)

Stock up on grocery store sales

4. Stock up during sale time.

You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to take advantage of sale and coupon match-ups. When you find coupons for products you typically buy that are also on sale, stock up so you can spend less on these staple items and reduce your trips to the grocery store. Since you likely don’t have time to research these match-ups, consult experts like TheKrazyCouponLady.com to find out what you can buy on the cheap each week using sales and coupons.

5. Look for manager markdowns.

Meat takes the biggest bite from your grocery budget, but it’s not exactly something you can cut out from your family’s diet. You’re growing kids need protein and energy to stay healthy for their active lives! To save on your family’s favorite meats, always search for manager markdowns to find big savings of up to 50% off on steak, chicken, pork or even fish nearing it’s expiration date. Cook what you want to eat right away then freeze the rest for later so it doesn’t spoil. You may even consider implementing “Meatless Mondays” to cut back on the cost of meat once a week. There are plenty of unique recipes that allow you to get creative with new foods without skimping on taste.

Buy frozen foods to save money

6. Don’t forget frozen.

Shopping in season for fruits and vegetables is key to saving money on fresh produce. If tonight’s dinner calls for product that’s not in season (and therefore exorbitantly priced), head to your frozen foods’ section for a less-costly alternative. Produce is flash frozen at peak ripeness and nutrient level, making it just as healthy as fresh for much less cost. March is National Frozen Food Month, so look for deep discounts on frozen produce and meals, and stock up on your family’s favorites! They key to avoiding the need to dial for pizza delivery, is keeping some healthy frozen foods in the freezer for meals on the fly!

7. Opt for boxed over baked.

Pre-made goodies from your grocer’s bakery represent some of the industry’s highest markups, with cakes, cupcakes and cookies often costing 300% more than their ingredients. Since making these items from scratch is time-consuming, consider picking up a few boxed mixes for an inexpensive alternative that yields fresh-tasting confections in a fraction of the time. You can often find boxed mixes for muffins, cakes, brownies and cookies for $1 each, and only require the addition of household staples like eggs, oil and water.

8. Try generic brands for basic ingredients.

Everyone has their favorite brand of ketchup or peanut butter, but some ingredients can easily be purchased as non-brand names without sacrificing flavor. Canned goods, dried pasta and even spices are good examples of generic or store brands that are just as good as name brands. In some cases, you may need to conduct a taste test, but typically basic ingredients that are mixed in with other flavors to prepare a meal can be purchased as store brands. This strategy can save you 30 to 50-percent!

Batch cook dinners like spaghetti

9. Prepare more than you need.

Even if you only have a family of three, prepare meals like you’re cooking for double the amount so you can save leftovers for later. These large portions can be used as lunch for parents, an afternoon snack for teens or as a ready-made dinner for kids when you’re short on time. Not only does this strategy trim your time in the kitchen, but it also reduces the amount of food waste since many recipes designed for just a couple people only use a fraction of the ingredients you purchase.

10. Freeze leftovers for quick meals.

If your family isn’t a fan of leftovers, freeze whatever you don’t eat for use later in the month. Most meals can save for six months and are great for those evenings when you’re tempted to do takeout. For all the planners out there, this tip is especially welcome: designate one weekend day a month to prepare several meals and freeze most of what you create for later consumption. That way, you not only have meals available, but a variety of choices to boot!

 

How to Create Vignettes in Decorating

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

This is a guest post from Mo Breden, a local designer who stages the most fun spaces. I asked if she would share some of her knowledge with us on how to easily create some spaces that make us happy in our own homes.  How lucky are we to peek into some of their beautiful spaces? I hope you love this as much as I do! xo

affordable-vignette-ideas

The holidays are over and your home looks as though the Grinch visited. The tinsel, garland, and lights are tucked away for next winter, and your home has an empty and cold feeling. The pages of home magazines entice you with their perfectly decorated rooms. How can you get your space to look like that on a budget?

The answer is in a fancy word with a simple concept. – vignette.

A vignette (pronounced: /vinˈyet/) is a decorative design which creates a pretty picture by using an arrangement of several objects. In a nutshell, you’ve got to accessorize with the right pieces and in the right ways.

All you need to create a vignette is a flat surface. They come in all shapes and sizes; mantles, entryway tables, nightstands, end tables, desks, ottoman trays etc. Vignettes can be the focal point of a room and make a big statement or they can be as simple as placing a few beautiful pieces together on a side table.

Follow our DO and DON’T tips below and you’ll be vignette-ing your home in no time:

vignette-cocktail table

DO: Add some of your favorite pieces!

A vase you received for your wedding, a hand-me-down lamp or picture frame of you and your girlfriends. You’re the one walking by it every day so use the things you love. Just because the magazine showed a series of accessories that are pretty all together, add some things that have a story and add character to your spaces.

DON’T: Overcrowd your vignette to the point it loses its function.

Remember to leave room for that coffee cup and spot for your book.

vignette-mantle

DO: Create height!

Whether it’s a vase with sticks in it or a slender buffet lamp, add something that is taller than your other accessories to create pretty visual layers. For added balance use 3’s and 5’s. Either use 3 large accessories/objects in your vignette or bump it put to 5 items. Working with these odd numbers helps in creating balance and offsets the height of your tallest pieces.

DON’T: Break the bank on accessories.

Although you may not think you have an eye for pulling it all together without starting from scratch, sometimes all it takes is one inspiring piece! Grab that gold sunburst accessory from Target and place it on top of an old stack of books, a wooden box or a glass vase. Re-invent some things you already have and your wallet will be thanking you too.

vignette- long buffet

DO: Include light!

A lamp is a great thing to add to your vignette but there are ways to use natural light too. Hang a mirror, use a mirrored tray or add in a mercury glass vase to reflect the natural light and add some sparkle.

DON’T: Forget to add in some unexpected color.

Using colorful pieces adds flare to your vignette and grabs your eye as you pass by. Fresh flowers are another way to bring beauty and color in you your space.

vignette- long buffet

DO: Use textures.

One of our favorite things to do is mix textures into our designs! Mixing woods, silvers, golds, blacks and whites adds a really cool look. Find an old tin box and place it on a white washed night stand, then add in a chrome sphere or a glass table lamp.

DON’T: Expect perfection on your first try.

Whenever we create a vignette we bring options to choose from. You may have to try a few different items to find that perfect piece!

Now you have the tools to kick out the Grinch, and make your home the warm, beautiful space
you desire. Happy Vignette-ing!

How We Successfully Raised $6,000 in Two Weeks for Burkina Faso

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

One of the most important and proud moments of my life happened almost 2 years ago when you all helped us give $8,000 total to provide clean water wells for Burkina Faso by donating $6,000 in just 2 weeks. You all blew us away!! I then shared this post on how to successfully raise funds for YOUR favorite charities. How fitting to end our November M Challenge focus on giving by republishing our story – if you’ve raised money for a charity using any of these tips, let me know in the comments!

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

I could not be prouder of my friends and readers than I am today. Today we were able to give $6,000 in raised funds to our Wells of Hope campaign for Burkina Faso and pitched in another $2,000 raising our total to an incredible $8,000 to build wells. This gift gives up to 4,000 men, women, & children access to clean water.

How did we do it? I am baffled myself! When we initially pitched the idea to the ministry team at our church that we wanted to do this, I had no clue if we would ever be able to pull it off. I am no Momastery, in traffic or in size of influence, but I did believe that my passion for this project could be contagious, if seen in front of the right eyes.

If you are trying to raise funds for a passion project of your own, I want to share with you the strategies I used for this campaign. I believe that there is enough love and money to go around to fund these projects, but it is finding ways to make that voice heard that is essential for funding.

Start With a Clear Plan & Goals

I am a big believer in getting everything on paper and when I came to the team with my big dreams of birthday wishes I didn’t speak vaguely of what I believed I could do. Let me be clear though, saying it out loud is hard. I did not want to let a single person down.  At the same time, knowing that I was trying to commit to a goal, offered motivation for me to really pull through for Burkina Faso. We shared that our family was financially committed to one well and we hoped to raise enough funds for at least two more wells.

I shared every avenue I was willing to tap into, how we could gather our funds, what I would need from the team to get people to connect to our cause, and what would be happening each day in that first week on our site.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Get People Curious About What You Are Doing

I began posting teasers that we were up to something a couple of weeks in advance of launching our project. We wanted to get people excited that something big was going to be happening and that we would be calling on them to be a part of it.  You can do this even if you don’t have a blog or website, but just through your social media channels.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

State Your Needs Clearly So People Know Who They Are Helping

People need to know what they are funding and what organizations they are helping. In a case like ours where there are numerous organizations involved, I tried to clearly state exactly who the partners in this project were, facts about the community & people that would be impacted, and what a donation would mean to this cause.

Saying that we need clean water for people in Africa would not be as impactful as, “One out of three children will probably die before they ever reach the age of ten. The deaths are mostly due to a lack of fresh water. The women of Burkina Faso often walk several miles to a dirty stream or stagnant pool, just to fill a bowl with water.”

Children dying before they are ten?

Women walking for miles to find a water source?

It is awful, but truthful information that calls upon people to help in a very visual way.

 

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Find an Avenue for Easy Collection

I have been a longtime fan of Pure Charity and knew that I wanted to use this site to spread the message of what we needed. I cannot recommend their site enough for what they can bring to your passion projects.

I could go on and on about why I love them so much, but it all boils down to people being able to connect with your cause, see their money grow, and know how many they have impacted. You can take a peek at my campaign to see how this looked.  I can’t tell you how many people went back in and donated a little more after their first donation to the project, just see the money bar go up a little more. After each donation is given, through Pure Charity, the person is told exactly how many lives their donation impacts. Even if you were only about to offer $10, you knew that you had impacted five people that day once your funds were submitted.

This method of collection was easy and you can connect your organization right to the funds.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Donations Are Great- Whether Big or Small

Unless the organization’s collection form states that you need to have a minimum donation, show people small and approachable ways of donating. Anything over $1 was considered a donation on Pure Charity so I tried to think of things that were a little over $1 that people could “give up” to give a child clean water. A Redbox flick, a Starbucks coffee, a ticket to the latest movie, or a quick stop for a burrito is money that could be spent to give clean water to Burkina Faso.

It worked so well that people were donating after they went through the drive-thru or they gave up their weekly latte run or pizza night for my cause.

The point of this was to prove that you don’t have to be a millionaire to give. Every donation was important to me. Every. Dollar.

Connect Your Cause With Your Social Media Channels

If you are active on social media, use it to your advantage and ask your friends to spread the word. My two biggest audiences on social media are Facebook & Instagram.

Here’s a fun fact, I absolutely despise video or hearing myself on video or anything to do with video. That being said, some people like pictures, some people like videos, and some people just like to read a status. I tried to utilize every avenue from the beginning. An intro video connected you to our cause, I did a couple of thank you videos to thank people as we met goals, and we shared lots of pictures. If you want to make quick banners or collages for your cause, PicMonkey is great for your websites and if you are looking to add text to your phone images, I love Rhonna Designs app.

Thank Everyone for Everything Often

Each time we received a donation, I thanked them, whether publicly or privately. I was so grateful to everyone who gave, whether it was a dollar or a hundred dollars. The fact that they connected with my cause and helped meant the world to me.

Anytime I have ever donated to someone and received a thank you, it acted as double validation for what I did. With 121 contributors to our campaign, I tried not to overlook a single person and sent an email or message to them as soon as I could to say thank you.

After all, if we didn’t have these AMAZING friends we could never be sharing our success story with you today. My friends ROCK!

Don’t Stop Once You Reach Your Goal

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.Our goal was to raise enough funds for three wells. In the end, the money kept trickling in and bit by bit we were inching closer to our fourth well. If we would have given up when we reached our goal, we would have never known we could have achieved an additional well.

I’m not done with Burkina Faso though. The water of funds will continue to trickle as I knit my way to another well this year. I am working on my first round of wares for an Etsy shop to give all the profit to Burkina Faso.

If you have a talent for something and a burning desire like this amazing young lady that shared her story with our readers, you can continue raising funds in whatever little ways and pockets of time you have in your day.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Whatever your project, I pray that God blesses you abundantly in it. I also thank each of you for helping us reach and surpass our goal of giving clean water to the people of Burkina Faso. Thanks to your donations, we will have water for up to 4,000 people. What an incredible gift you have given us and these people.

Thank you for celebrating the site’s tenth anniversary with us in such a grand and beautiful way! It solidifies my belief that this is just what God wants me to be doing with my life.

xoxo,

Amy

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How to Make a Homeless Care Package (Free Printable Supplies List)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Note: From November 2012, this is one of the articles I’m most proud of on Mom Advice, and I’m SO happy that it’s also one of the most pinned, making me proud of YOU. I’m republishing it for our November Focus on Giving M Challenge with the hopes it will see a whole new group of people who will be inspired to give!

One thing that you may not know about our family is that we are really passionate about caring for the homeless. Creating a homeless care package can be one fantastic way that your entire family can be involved in caring for the homeless. Today we want to provide a checklist of supplies for the homeless, a local resources sheet you can print out (if you are in our area), and some tips for involving the whole family in this project.

This month Walmart let me choose a project that I was passionate about for the holidays and showcase how families could recreate it in their own homes. As I always disclose, I am compensated for my writing, BUT instead of accepting the compensation, we invested what I would have earned along with the gift card budget Walmart gave me to give back to the homeless in our community. 

These homeless care packages can be prepared for your local homeless shelters or kept tucked away in the trunk of your car for those you may see on the street looking for your help. I love feeling armed in these situations and these kits are a simple way to show how much you care.

I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t tell you that my husband inspires me every day with his giving heart. Last winter, he was coming home late from work because he would see people in need and run to stores to get them supplies and gift cards.

That is his heart.

That is why I love him.

If there is one thing I firmly believe in, it is that giving should be a family affair. We have to lead our children by our example. I want my children to remember that what made our family special is that we always gave with our whole hearts.  

My kids assisted in every aspect of this project. My son came with me and did the number crunching on a good old-fashioned calculator, my daughter helped sort and organize all of the items we bought, and both kids helped fill the bags with all of the necessary items.

Here Are My 3 Essential Elements to a Great Homeless Care Package

Feed Their Needs- One of the greatest gifts you can give to someone who is homeless is personal hygiene items and food to nourish their bodies. Begin by picking up items that will satisfy this area in their life first. Simple items like shampoo, a razor, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a bar of soap, and tissues are great items to keep on hand.

Food like granola bars, crackers with peanut butter, trail mixes, dried fruits, and a bottle of water are also great items to tuck into your bags. If you have the funds, small denominator gift cards (we did $5 Walmart gift cards) can also be great to give so that they can pick up a meal or item(s) they might need.

Provide Warmth- We live in Indiana and the winters here are brutal. I can’t imagine how cold it would be to stand on the streets without the proper items I need for warmth. Add items like thermal boot socks, gloves, scarves, and hats to your gift bags. Items like these may seem out of your financial reach, but I found all of these at the dollar store and the sets of gloves were a mere $.50 each.

Feed Their Souls- I am sure it goes without saying, but feeding someone’s soul is just as important as feeding their needs. You can feed their souls in a variety of ways depending on your families beliefs and resources. We created a local resources list (available for local residents to download) that they can tap into for further resources in our town. A note that lets them know that they are on your prayer list, a note of encouragement by your children, or a scripture that you find comforting can also be excellent additions.

God has been so good to us, but 10 years ago we were in a very different place than where we are now.  My husband was unemployed for almost an entire year, our financial situation was a house of cards, and my heart was in a bad place. Although I don’t like to admit it, I wondered what my purpose on this earth even was. I never have forgotten that dark place and it is why we still try to be so careful with the resources we have been given and why I have such a tender place in my heart for those who are struggling.

Being careful though doesn’t mean that you can’t be a giver. There are fantastic ways to give, both big and small, around the holidays. Be sure to check our list of ten painless ways to give back to charities to help you get started.  I call these smaller ways to give the, “scraps of life giving.”  I have talked a lot about that with my partnership with Pure Charity as well! 

We want to help you give back to your community! Here are some resources to do just that!

Grab our Free Homeless Supply Checklist for your your care packages. Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

Grab our Local Resources List for your care packages (if you don’t live in Michiana, you can use this as a template for your own sheet)!  Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

 

How do you give back in your community? How do you teach your kids to be givers?

 

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. For this project, all compensation was invested in aiding our area homeless.  My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

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