Wednesday, September 18, 2013

CommentaThon - 50 Comments in 7 Days!

I am going to promote a little in this post. I just had an amazing week! I participated in a CommentaThon and I loved it!


I got to read such a variety of blogs. So many stories out there. Some made me cried. Many made me laugh. Some made me think...What a freaking awesome idea!!


How does it work?


Well it's all thanks to Blogelina. Tanya is the girl behind the curtain of this wonderful site. You will find everything you ever needed to know about blogging on her site. This site has truly helped me in a thousand smalls ways. 


Monday, September 16, 2013

25 Ways to Save Hundreds Each Year






Stop buying bottled water. On average a 24 pack of bottled water is $3.99. If your family goes through even just 1 pack per week – that equals $207.48 per year. I purchased a water pitcher with a filter for $18.18 on Amazon. I purchase a new filter every 3 months – which runs me about $6 dollars for a total cost of $24 per year. Add that $24 to the $18.18 I already spent and my total cost for the year is $42.18. So I just saved $165.30 by eliminating the cost of buying bottled water.

Saved: $165.30 per year 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Savings Trips 9/12/2013 - CVS and Walgreens - $134.39 Worth of Product for $57.80!!

The amount of stores, savings, coupons...it's endless. I regularly read the Krazy Coupon Lady's blog to see what store match-ups are going on each week. A match-up is matching what the store has on sale with what coupons are available. 

The Krazy Coupon Lady features every store under the sun it seems...and there is tons of great information, resources and links. But I am going to keep it much simpler. Each week I will feature of few of my own shopping trips - what coupons I used and how much I saved. Simple trips that you can make today to the store(s) and snag the same savings I did. I am not going to break down every store and every item on sale. But I will definitely share some awesome deals and savings with you all as often as I can - and keep it as basic and easy as I can. 

I shop in Virginia - and the stores I frequent the most are:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Daughter Was Born With A Cleft Lip - Our Journey - Part One



I have been struggling with the right words and the right way to start this series. I think because in a lot of ways this topic is hard to discuss. Because there have been really hard moments. But of course the joy…the best moments always outweigh the bad.

If your child is born with a birth defect, you are instantly haunted. Haunted by every moment of the past 9 months. Wondering why this happened? What went wrong? What defining moment changed it all?


I didn’t know I was pregnant those first few weeks. Makayla wasn’t planned. I was 21 years old. So I knew there had been a few glasses of wine and a few cigarettes those first few weeks before I knew.


I thought about the fact that I dyed my hair when I was 6 months pregnant. I thought about going on that teacup ride at the carnival. It wasn’t a fast ride…but??


You analyze every second because deep down you feel overwhelmed by the guilt. Because for you it’s not really what went wrong…it's what did you do wrong?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

All The Things We Do Wrong - Fun and Surprising Facts

I came across an article a few weeks ago. It was all about how to apply your make-up – and I realized I was doing it all wrong. I had my “duh” moments as I continued to read the article. And then I started to really think about all the things we do day in and day out. And then I wondered how many other things I was doing wrong? Surprisingly (Not surprising at all) I was doing many things incorrectly. And you may be, too.

Mascara – I LOVE MASCARA! It’s one of the few make-up products I spend a little extra for. The best mascara in the world for me is Benefit Cosmetics They're Real Mascara.
You can snag it from Amazon for around $26.00 dollars. Which is obviously pricier than your drug store. But this mascara gives me the WOW effect I love. And it lasts a long time – it’s doesn’t get gunky and gross as quickly as cheaper brands do.

Now how to apply it? First off don’t pump the wand in and out of the bottle. It makes the mascara dry out faster. You should just twist the wand around inside the tube. Wipe any excess mascara off the wand when you remove it. Start at the base of your lashes and sweep the wand up and down, applying 2-3 coats.


Homemade Pizza Recipe for Family Pizza Night



As I say with all my baking adventures – I don’t go by looks, I go by taste. I try to really do all my baking on Sunday and get everything prepared for the week. So it takes a lot of time and effort. I don’t end up with perfectly round pizzas or exact replicas of Hot Pockets. But I come pretty close – and the taste is amazing!

I will honestly say homemade pizza is the best pizza I ever had! The kids love it! My boyfriend loves it. My daughter's friends all love to come over for pizza night. We actually prefer this to any pizza chain anywhere!

I spend roughly $5 dollars on ingredients to make two pizzas. Before, on a Friday night I would spend at least $20 on pizza delivery. But this pizza is made fresh, the kids love to help make it - and you just saved a minimum of $15 dollars.

So for us, every Friday is Family Pizza Night.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Taboo of Government Assistance




So I have wanted to write this post for awhile. I just don't want anyone to ever feel like they can't get help if they ever need it. Some bloggers I have read in the past have put a taboo on government assistance and it upsets me because sometimes that is the only resource a person has. And they shouldn't feel shame or guilt for taking that assistance.

I definitely have some coupon and budget bloggers that I love. I read them faithfully and I have saved a lot of money over the years. But more than once they have talked about government assistance. How they have never gone on assistance and how they used budgeting and coupons to stay afloat. And that they knew God would take care of them, so they didn’t want to get any kind of assistance.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Spinach and Cheese Smothered Chicken and Mushrooms Recipe




I was a little intimidated by this recipe at first. It seemed like a lot was going on at once – but it turned out to be much easier than I had imagined. Not to mention the taste. The spinach and cheese gave the chicken a spinach dip taste. The mushrooms were amazing. So so good. And I managed to do it all in about 30mins.

Chicken Breast

4-5 Boneless Breasts (I use only 3 usually. We use the leftover spinach for a dip)

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon seasoned salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 Cup or 5 slices of Mozzarella Cheese

Ebates - Earn Cash Back Every Time You Shop Online




When I first started using the Ebates site, I wondered; “WHY DIDN’T I DO THIS YEARS AGO??!!” 

Ah well, we live and learn. Ebates is so simple and easy to use. I even taught my mother-in-law how to use it. She tends to be an online shopoholic around the holidays. I finally showed her that she could be getting cash back for all that online spending.

So, walk the easy steps with me. Click here to go to Ebates.com. Then click Sign Up in the top left hand corner. They are only asking the basics, no credit card or banking information is required. They pay you, not the other way around…I promise. 

Once you have created an account, go ahead and login. Then click My Account in the top right corner.  Your account section will show you all your information as well as your cash back earnings. To the left you will see a list of things you can do to your account. If you have not selected your cash back payment method yet, go ahead and do that now. And you can always come back and change it at any time.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Kids, Schedules...Chaos


People have always emphasized the importance of organization and schedules when it comes to children. This is super great in theory. And even mastered by many. God bless them – I tip my hat to them. Because when you throw together a 1 year old, a 3 year old and a 7 year old – I barely keep my sanity much less a schedule.

Maybe it’s just me. But my girls are all different. They have different temperaments, different likes and dislikes and are on different schedules. My oldest is in bed by 9 and she is gone all day. My 3 year old is full of energy, never wants to eat anything, likes to beat up her baby sister, and doesn’t want to share a toy at all…and so on and so on. The baby likes to do nothing but eat when she can. She is a chunky monkey. She also doesn’t nap well because if she takes even an hour nap, she never wants to go to bed at night. But try to keep a 1 year old awake all day and tell me how that turns out.

Basically my life is blissful chaos. And most days I am okay with this because I know it will all be over in the blink of an eye. And despite sleep deprivation, I know I will miss these days.

Free Kid's Printables

School Express - Free worksheet printables covering reading, writiing, science, math and more. You can also print reward certificates, coloring pages and educational game worksheets.

Activity Village - Free printables, coloring pages, craft cutouts and more. 

The Crafty Crow - Fun craft ideas and printables. Tons of DIY activities, holiday themes and more.


Education.com - Tons of worksheets for math, reading, writing, science, social studies and many more.

Crayola Coloring Pages - Great coloring pages like School Days, Animals, Holidays and more.

Friday, August 16, 2013

How to Score Make-Up For Cheap and For Free





Natural beauty is just that…beautiful. But we all like to enhance ourselves a little. 

However, I no longer pay retail for any makeup or nail polish. In fact, 99% of the time I get them for free.

How? Simpler than you think actually. It’s all about making your local drugstore work for you. Most of us have a CVS, Walgreens or Rite Aid that we shop at. Each store offers different incentives, coupons, deals and more. 

CVS – Offers Extrabuck rewards every week on different products. 99% percent of the time one of those products is make-up. Extrabucks are like free money to spend in the store. They are used just like coupons. $3 in Extrabucks equals $3 off your purchase.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Earning an Income With eBay






Sell Your Stuff:

I have read articles and eBooks on how to make a living with eBay. It is definitely feasible – but it takes a lot of time and effort. It can be a long road before you are making serious profit. And even then, there are no guarantees with eBay. 

However, while I won’t recommend you and your spouse quit your job today – you can make some cash and make it fairly quickly.

The days of a typical yard sale are behind us it seems. Of course they still occur, and you can definitely have one. But making real money requires you to really sell each item. That is almost impossible to do at a typical yard sale. 

But on eBay you can create ads for each item and truly SELL them to your customers. 

But how?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Childhood Burns - What To Do


So tonight I was going for Worst Mother of the Year - and I won. I had just poured a cup of coffee. I passed my youngest daughter Zoe in the dining room as I went into the living room. I sat my coffee down on and end table and sat down beside it on the couch. In that 10 seconds Zoe came from the dining room to the living room and grabbed the coffee cup.The hot coffee spilled all over her.

Of course she started screaming and we started scrambling. Dustin was pulling her clothes off and I ran into the bathroom and started a cool bath.

Zoe continued to sob as I put her into the cool water - and it broke my heart. I took a moment to examine the burns. Her skin was extremely red - that raw red. It made me hurt just to look at it.

We didn’t have any antibiotic ointment or aloe Vera, so I sent Dustin to the store. I managed to get some Tylenol in Zoe - and then I tried to think of anything to ease her pain.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Inbox Dollars - Get Paid To Read Your Emails






My mom actually turned me on to this site. She told me about it for years, but I never gave it a try until recently.

I don’t like any money makers online that take a whole lot of effort – because the truth is none of us are making big money from these sites. So the easier the better.

Inbox Dollars is pretty simple and straightforward. Click the banner and join for free now.




Signup is simple. Just the basics. Once completed, there are several ways to earn cash right away. Take surveys, download the toolbar, and connect with the site via Facebook.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Free Music







iTunes Store


Every week I check out what is free in the iTunes store. Just click the Free on iTunes link on the right hand side of the iTunes store.


There are featured songs for free each week. They vary – it could be any singer, genre or group. You will find top of the chart singers and incredible up and coming. iTunes is great because you preview the song before downloading it. I have fallen in love with so many songs I found for free on iTunes. I have discovered new artists and bands that I love. 


You can also find free TV shows, apps, books and more offered up each week.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to Have a Child's Birthday on a Budget



So next week my daughter Leah will turn 3! I am very excited about this because Leah has been the definition of the terrible twos. I love her to death and she can be the sweetest little angel in the world. But five minutes later she can be biting her sister, throwing food all over the place or toys off the balcony. She is a red head and has the temper to go with it. So I guess I am hoping she will mellow out a bit once the big 3 hits. Probably just wishful thinking on my part. Leah is the middle child and she fights fiercely for attention. So I think we may have our hands full for years to come with little Miss Leah :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Blueberry Muffins with Sweet Crumb Topping Recipe


I consider myself a muffin connoisseur. Basically…I really LOVE muffins. Blueberry being my absolute favorite. This recipe is to die for good. Of course you can make it without the sugary crumb topping – but why would you want to do that??

Muffins

1 ½ cups flour

¾ cup of sugar

2 teaspoons of baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Funnel Cake Recipe - So Easy and So Delicious


I never have to wait for the fair to come to town – or spend $5 bucks for a funnel cake. I can’t believe how easy it is to make them at home. And they taste as good if not better than the ones you get at the fair.


Ingredients

6 Cups Vegetable Shortening (For frying)

1 ½ Cups Milk

2 Eggs

2 Cups Flour

1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

MyPoints - A Few Clicks A Day and Your Points Start To Really Add Up



I actually did MyPoints years ago. I would get emails and could get points just for clicking the link enclosed in the email. 

MyPoints is pretty much the same as it was back then. You earn points for using the email links, but there are many other ways to earn as well. There are games, shopping and easy points to name a few ways.

Just this week I actually started doing MyPoints again. I only take advantage of the email feature. When I get an email from then, I click the link to confirm and get my points. 


Friday, July 5, 2013

Activity Ideas to Keep The Kids Busy




Too many times one of the girls will run up to me and say, "What are we going to do today?" And my mind goes blank and I can't think of one thing fun to do. Or anything I have the energy to do after a long day at work. And then there are the endless days of summer - and no matter how many squirt guns you buy or soccer balls...the kids are always looking for something else to entertain them.

So I started jotting down different activities and ideas - summer fun, indoor fun on those rainy days and places to go that are easy on the budget.




Spring/Summer Outdoor Fun



Pool Time (even if you don't have a pool in your community, I encourage you to buy a kiddie pool. The pool is just non-stop fun for the kids. Sometimes they are in it all day.)


Car Wash (The two older girls love to help me wash the car. We get wet and soapy and have fun spraying each other with the hose. A bonus is I get a sparkling clean car and I made a chore into a fun family event.)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Dinner Rolls Recipe


We are big bread eaters in my house. I personally grew up always having bread with dinner. And if you cut out your bread during the day – you can really enjoy it with dinner without worrying about carbs or calories.

For many years I purchased dinner rolls at about $3.00 a tube – popped them out and cooked them with dinner. They were good – but I never imagined how good homemade could be. Not to mention, I spend around $1 dollar making them from scratch.

On my baking day, I usually make about 3 batches of rolls. I shape the dough, individually quick freeze them and them bagged them and put them in our big freezer. This way, I have rolls all week if I need them. I just take them out of the freezer the night before, and they are ready to bake and enjoy with the dinner the following night.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

CinnaBun Recipe - AMAZING


As I say with all my baking adventures – I don’t go by looks, I go by taste. I try to really do all my baking on Sunday and get everything prepared for the week. So it takes a lot of time and effort. I don’t end up with perfectly round pizzas or exact replicas of Hot Pockets. But I come pretty close – and the taste is amazing!

So I have tried a few different Cinnabun recipes. But this is my absolute favorite! Half were gone within 5 minutes when I made them ! I use my bread machine – which I have completely fallen in love with over the past 6 months. I wrote a whole post about it, because it saves me money and time with incredible results. Read here…

Let’s start with the recipe for the Cinnabuns

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Homemade Pancakes Recipe - Quick and Easy

What I like about this pancake recipe is you can pre-make the mix and store it in zipper bags. Just keep the mix in a dry warm place like your pantry.

I got the recipe and idea from Blissful and Domestic’s blog. She has a whole section dedicated to Ready Mixes and quick and easy recipes to use with the mixes.


Ingredients for Pancake Dry Mix

10 Cups All-Purpose Flour

2 ½ Cups Instant Nonfat Dry Milk

½ Cup Sugar

½ Cup Baking Powder

2 Tablespoon Salt

CornFlake Chicken Recipe


Whenever I have made Cornflake Chicken in the past – it has turned out to be a soggy mess. Then I was watching Trisha’s Southern Kitchen (not that I obsessively watch The Food Network or anything). Her recipe is super simple and super yummy! So I tried it out, and came out with crunchy chicken FINALLY! And I added my only little touches.




Trisha’s Southern Kitchen


Ingredients

4-5 Chicken Breasts

Buttermilk

Friday, June 28, 2013

Creating A Second Income Online




Every time I read an article on ways to make online – they are the same. Take surveys! Be a mystery shopper! Get paid to read your emails! Play online games and win big! Build and design websites! They all sound good. And they are. I love many sites like MyPoints, Swagbucks, Inbox Dollars and eBates. But second income?...simply, No.

The truth? How many people do you know that make a good steady income from mystery shopping or taking surveys? Not many. Probably none at all.

Plus, most of these great income earning ideas will earning you just a few cents a day. These are sites to do in your spare time and earn a little extra cash. You are not making a living off these sites. But for fun and a little extra cash, the best sites I personally have discovered and use are:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe



This recipe equals those ooey gooey chocolate chip cookies we all love!



Ingredients

2 Cups Flour

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 1/2 sticks of Melted Butter (use real butter, I have tried with margarine and other spreads. The cookies do not come out the same.)

Pinch of Salt

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Viggle - Watch TV and Be Rewarded For It




I am probably the most excited about the Viggle App. I downloaded it three days ago, and it’s pretty awesome. I told my boyfriend about it, and now he and I are checking in all the time.



Viggle is basically an app that pays you points for watching television. The cool part is you don’t actually have to watch the whole television show. You just have to check in. 

The app is free in the iTunes store. So far that don’t have it in the Android market, but I bet that will change soon. 


Friday, June 14, 2013

To Freeze or Not to Freeze? That is the Question...

What You Can Freeze


(This is what has worked for me. There are many other items people will tell you that you can freeze – but many of them don’t turn out well.)


Fruits


  • Strawberries (perfect for smoothies, pancakes, muffins and cupcakes)
  • Blueberries (wonderful for pancakes and muffins)
  • Blackberries
  • Bananas (Best for smoothies or puddings)
  • Cherries
  • Peaches

Monday, June 10, 2013

How My Bread Machine Saved Me $1000 Dollars Last Year


Quite honestly a few years ago I could have never pictured myself using a bread machine. I mean it sounded like something my grandmother would have used in the 1940s. But I have learned a lot about bread machines in the past 2 years – and have discovered the savings benefit of having one.
When I sat down to start my budget and try to discover ways to save…groceries topped the list. Besides rent, groceries are my largest expense.
I had read rave reviews from some of my favorite bloggers about bread machines. But I was a bit resistant to say the least. Then I got to thinking about how much bread my family actually eats….and it was A LOT!
Here are some averages for my family of five.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Free Samples

If you explore and signup for every freebie site out there - prepare to be bombarded by emails, spam and solicitors. 

Instead, I stick with a couple trusted freebie sites that have proven time and again to be legit. 

Do I always get full size samples? No. Is my mailbox overflowing with free stuff? Not at all.

But...you can try samples of some of your favorite brands. Plus, many companies will also send coupons and discount codes where the free sample. It's a great way to snag exclusive savings. 

FreeFlys - The site has new samples all the time. It brings you top brands and exclusive offers. I have personally received many samples and coupons via this site.

PG Everyday - Signup for a free account. You can access to awesome coupons. Plus you can request samples a few times a year. You always will receive random coupon booklets.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Free eBooks




Of course I would first and foremost recommend hitting up your local library. My daughters and I love the library. There is something about it. And it gets us out of the house - we are doing something as a family, and they are finding their own love of reading.


Another benefit is free eBook check outs. Many libraries now let you check out from the eBooks library if you have a library card. Every library is different - so I would recommend calling or stopping by your local branch. 

The library can also be a great resource for audio books, DVDs and even music CDs.


Either I (or someone in my immediate family) owns an iPad, a Nook and Kindle Fire. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Meet Zoe


We never call her Zoe…it’s always Zoe Blu. I knew Zoe would have blue eyes like her dad and sister. I named her months before she made her entrance.

After I had my middle daughter Leah, I actually landed a job. I had gone on the interview 9 months pregnant. I hadn’t heard anything back. It wasn’t until a couple weeks after Leah was born that they called and offered me the position. I couldn’t believe it.

Soon after we were able to get our own place again. We had been living with my mother-in-law after losing my job and condo. But it seemed like the tide was turning and things were looking up.

Fast forward a year and a half later – and here comes Zoe Blu!

Meet Leah

When I got pregnant with my second child I was in the middle of a lot of changes. I had lost my job, my home and my security. It had been a rough few months, and I hadn’t planned on mixing a new baby into all that. My boyfriend Dustin and I hadn’t been dating that long – even though we had known one another our whole lives. It still felt too new and too soon. Too uncertain. But God had other plans.

My second sonogram the doctor told me it was a boy. I was pretty excited. Deep down I had secretly hoped it would be a girl. But I knew having a boy would be a whole new adventure.

Dustin has a job in a restaurant. It was only part time. And we had moved in with his mother. Things were tight. Money was tight. I couldn’t find a job and by my second trimester I didn’t think it would even make sense to start working anywhere.

We had a wonderful baby shower. I got so much stuff. Tons of little blue baby clothes. A green pack and play. A brown car seat. My friends and family were pretty excited. I was as well.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Meet Makayla

I was 22 when Makayla was born. And I had no clue what to expect from motherhood. She was my first baby. She taught me everything I know about being a mommy.

Makayla was born with a bi-lateral cleft lip. You can read more about our journey HERE.

Makayla was a chunky baby and toddler. She had this head full of dark curls. You can’t imagine what it would look like in the mornings. She always called it her Kooky Hair.

Makayla also had this big eyes and long lashes. She was just beautiful and sweet. Very affectionate – but also independent. She has always held her own.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Birthday Freebies - HUGE LIST





Signup for free email alerts, deals and promotional mailings with these sites - and you get freebies each year on your birthday. Who doesn't want to be pampered as much as possible on their birthday??!


Note: I set up a separate email account just for these offers. That way all my birthday freebies, coupons and updates come to one email - and they don't mix up with my regular email account.


Abuelos e-Club - Snag a free gift for joining and a special surprise on your birthday.

Amato's - Snag discounts and freebies and a birthday surprise.

AMF Bowling - Join their free eClub and get coupons, free bowling perks and more - which includes a free game on your birthday.

Applebee's - Join their free email club and you get a free dessert on your birthday.

 Arby's - Signup for awesome coupon deals, special offers and a surprise on your birthday.

Au Bon Pain e-Club - Snag offers, healthy tips and a birthday surprise.

Auntie Ann's Pretzel Perks- I am HUGE FAN! I love the garlic pretzel and I get one anytime I go to the mall. You can sign up for coupons and receive a free pretzel on your birthday. Extra awesome - you can add your spouse and kid to the birthday signup and they will also get a free pretzel on their birthdays.

Backyard Burgers e-Club - Signup to hear about all the latest promotions and receive a free burger on your birthday.