Wednesday, July 9, 2014

{This Summer}

This summer, I took a different approach. Instead of worrying about seeing how much fun I can cram in to summer vacation and instead of making a summer list, I decided to change things up.

This summer, I decided that we are staying home more.
Finding our own fun.
And learning life skills.

We're learning to be a little more independent.
To entertain ourselves more.
And rely on others less.

We're learning how to catch minnows with our bare hands.
Bait our own hooks.
And how to take a fish off our hook.

We're learning how to wash our own clothes.
How to make better use of the ones we have.
And how to iron.

We're learning how to make our own lunches.
Even if it's just pouring ourselves a bowl of cold cereal.
And how to use the grill.

We're learning how to care for ourselves better.
Care for our things better.
And to clean up after ourselves more.

We're discovering new books. New authors. New genre's.
And building new appreciations for libraries, their atmosphere and their air conditioning.

We're discovering classic 80's movies.
New-to-us games like solitaire and Skip-Bo.
As well as dusting off the oldies but goodies like Sorry, Trouble and Chess.
And spending less time on our computers, iPhones and Xboxes.

We're learning how to have better attitudes.
How great life can be without schedules.
And how to conquer our fears.

We're adopting the phrase "choose the right."
And reminding ourselves of it often.

We're learning how to try new things.
To branch out.
And have open minds. 

We're learning how to better our golf swing.
How to throw a Frisbee.
And dusting off our rollerblades.

We're enjoying lots of good ol' fashioned popsicles.
And ice cream cones at home.
And going out for ice cream less.

We're learning how to climb up poles.
Scale park equipment.
And even climb rocks.

We're staying up late.
Sleeping in late.
And learning the joys of sidewalk chalk, skateboards and hanging at the beach at 9:00 at night.

We're learning how to do the monkey bars.
How to hang upside down by our knees.
And how to do penny drops.

We're discovering dog parks.
And skate parks.
And neighboring suburb's parks.

We're appreciating simple things like reading outside.
Cheap blow up pools.
The sounds of bullfrogs.
And picking wild daisies.

We're learning how get creative with what we have.
To figure out new uses for things.
Like strapping a car seat to our electric scooter with a bunch of bungee cords.
And enjoying the end result.

This summer. 
We're learning lots.
We're bone tired.
And the house is a mess.
But we are having tons of fun!

Linking Here:
Someday Crafts 
The Shabby Nest 
Sunny Simple Life

Thursday, July 3, 2014

{Easiest Dessert Ever}

Got a hankering for something sweet?? Got all crazy on yourself and volunteered to bring dessert?? Feel like being somewhat creative in the kitchen but don't want to spend two hours in the kitchen baking something?? Well look no further! Because this?? Has got to be the easiest, and most fool proof, dessert ever. And because I'm not a baker, or much of a dessert maker period, that's really saying something! Even better?  You quite possibly have all the ingredients on hand.  But if you don't, no worries, $5.00, and a quick run to your neighborhood convenience store will solve that problem.

Easiest Dessert Ever
1 stick of butter
1 cup of water
1 cup flour
4 eggs
2 small packages of instant vanilla pudding (chocolate works great, too!)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 container of Cool Whip
Hershey's Syrup

Make It!
Combine butter and water in medium saucepan and bring to boil. Take off burner, stir in flour, then add the eggs one at a time-- mixing well between each egg. Spread on a jelly roll pan then bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees. The crust will turn a light brown when it's done. Let the crust cool completely.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the pudding and milk and mix per package directions. Add in cream cheese and mix till blended. Spread mixture over cooled crust. Spread Cool Whip over top, then drizzle with Hershey's Syrup. Chill 30 minutes before serving. 

So there you go. A super, super easy dessert recipe that everyone, even your pickiest eater, is sure to love. (he did in my house, anyway!) And a super, super easy dessert recipe that you can whip up in no time, anytime you want.

Linking Here:
Someday Crafts
Ginger Snap Crafts
The Shabby Nest 
The Idea Room 
30 Handmade Days 
Tatertots And Jello 
Be Different Act Normal 
Not Just A Housewife 
The Crafty Blog Stalker 
A Bowl Full Of Lemons

Friday, June 6, 2014

{A Mom's Funner Summer}

Because today is the first official day of summer for us, and because I think Mom's should have a fun summer too, I present my very own personal summer fun list.....

*Wear Suntan Oil Just For The Smell Of It!
*Make Iced Coffee--  A LOT!!
*Get Up And Walk The Dog Early One Morning
*Get Up And Go For A Run Before The Kids Wake Up
*Sleep In!
*Go Through The DQ Drive Thru
*Paint My Toenails A Fun New Color 
*Find A New Author To Read
*Find A New Salad Recipe To Try
*Go To A Movie By Myself
*Read: The Fault In Our Stars
*Make SweetTea
*Do a Sudoku Book From Cover To Cover
*Make Homemade Lemonade
*Spend A Day Reading Magazines Outside
*Go To A Vineyard
*Read Janette Oke's: Once Upon A Summer
*Try A New Wine
*Drive Through McDonalds For An Iced Tea
*Buy A Homestyle Lemonade From Wendy's
*Watch A Movie On My iPad/Laptop In Bed 
*Make A Smoothie
*Drink My Morning Coffee On The Patio
*Make Monster Cookies Just For Fun
*Make Fruit Pizza
*Walk Through A Garden Center Just For Some Inspiration
*Go To The Driving Range And Shoot A Bucket Of Balls
*Make Shish-ka-bobs
*Plot A New Running Route
*Drink A Glass Of Wine On The Patio One Night
*Sit Outside Caribou And Read
*Read: Divergent
*Try A New Grilling Recipe
*Watch Season 3 Of Parenthood
*Buy A Summery Scented Shower Gel
*Try A New Workout Video
*Watch Season 1 Of Arrested Development
*Rent A Redbox Movie And Actually Watch It!
*Follow Eagle Brook's Bible Reading Plan For The Summer
*Read: The Book Thief
*Go To McDonalds For A 49 Cent Cone
*Make A Pitcher Of Sun Tea
*Find A New Color Of Nail Polish
*Go For A Walk Early One Morning While The Kids Are Still Sleeping
*Buy Flowers At The Farmer's Market
*Wash And Vacuum My Car By Hand
*Go To McDonalds For A Chocolate Dipped Cone
*Watch One Of My Favorite Movies From The 80's
*Stay Up Extra Late One Night
*Open The Windows As Often As Possible!
*Listen To Summery Music {Starbucks Sampler, The Beach Boys, She And Him}
*Make BLT'S For Dinner
*Make Fruit Kebabs
*Buy Ice Cream Treats And Eat Them!
*Make A Strawberry Pie
*Read: The Hiding Place
*Buy A Strawberry Lemonade From Wendy's
*Buy A Pair Of White Skinnies
*Play Solitaire With A Deck Of Cards
*Go For A Drive Down Back Roads With The Windows Open
*Learn How To Use The Grill And Grill Hamburgers
*Buy A New Lipgloss
*Make A Flag Cake
*Grill Steak For Dinner
*Bike On The Bike Trail One Morning While The Kids Are Sleeping
*Make A Dinner Entirely Out Of Farmers Market Food
*Read Kristin Hannah's: Summer Island 
*Eat My Lunch Outside
*Go To A Twins Game
*Try A Waffle Cone Blizzard From Dairy Queen
*Buy A Pair Of White Shorts
*Make Fresh Strawberry Topped Waffles For A Snack One Afternoon
*Buy A Dress

Admittedly, I doubt I'll get around to doing everything that's on this list, but then again, so many of them I can combine like reading a book or doing a Sudoku Puzzle while I drink an iced coffee, or going for a nice long drive while I listen to Starbucks Summer Sampler or She and Him, so I guess you never know, I maybe could.  Either way though?? I'm thinking I'll sure have a rockin' summer trying!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

{Summer Bucket Time}

Today is the last day of school for my kids, so per our last day of school tradition, the kids were met with chocolate donuts and their 2014 Summer Buckets when they sat down for breakfast. 

Noah was a bit tough this year. Not quite a kid, so beach toys weren't going to cut it. But not quite a teen either, so teen things weren't going to cut it. In the end I opted for a water bomb football, a package of water balloons, a new water bottle, a new sketch book and the book Enders Game.

Meghan, who even at the age of 16 still gets super excited about her Summer Bucket, got a new sustainable cup, a new journal, a fresh bottle of suntan oil, a bottle of ICE water, and some new nail polish.

And Addison got chalk, a new bottle of bubbles, a blow up beach ball, a new jump rope, a new sand scoop, and a new purple water bottle because that's what she likes.

All three got a movie theater size box of Starbursts, a package of Mamba's, (yum!) a new pair of flip flops (because you can never have too many pairs of flops!) and some Mr Freeze's.

So, with chocolate donuts in their bellies and some summer goodies packed in buckets, I think the three of them are ready for summer vacation! And if they aren't, I certainly am!  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

{10 Of My New Favorite Ways To Save}

Just because I haven't posted any new tips in quite a's ten of my new favorite ways to save a bit of money~ be it for the purpose of paying bills, saving for a rainy day, or just for fun!

1.  I Became an IKEA Family member. Not only was it free to join but my card gets me special sales each month along with a free coffee in the cafe every time I shop. But probably the best reason of all to join? Quite often there's a special deal from Shutterfly for IKEA Family members. A couple months ago members got 101 free prints. Last month members got a free 8x8 photo book. So the next time you're at IKEA, take the five minutes to sign up. Even if it's only for the free coffee!

2.  You know those last bits and butts of bread that no one wants to eat? I've been saving them! I just toss them into the freezer and save them. I've then used them to make bread pudding, french toast, and crockpot french toast. Though you could also make a crockpot egg bake or even croutons and bread crumbs with them. Or if you're really in a bind, you can do what I did one morning: use them to make toast for breakfast and sandwiches for the kids' lunches. 

3.  I've been buying day-olds. Did you know that Jimmy Johns sells their day old bread for .49 a loaf? I've been buying it like crazy lately for making subs at home, garlic bread, and french bread pizza. I've even been buying extras because it freezes wonderfully! Or how about this: did you know that a lot of gas stations sell their baked goods at half off after 4:00pm? I learned that about a year or so ago but didn't actually do anything about it till recently. Suffice it to say, the past 5/6 months I've been having fun buying cookies at half off and putting them in my kids' lunches. And sad but true? I've even been buying and freezing donuts when I see them at half off because they make such a fun Saturday morning breakfast treat! I mean, talk about a great way to buy a treat pretty inexpensively!

4. Meat. Oh so expensive sometimes, yet a necessary dietary requirement. But listen to this, you know how Target always has those fresh pre-made hamburger patties for $3.99-$4.99 a package? Well, a lot of times these packages will have $1.00 off /$2.00 off coupons on them when they're reaching their expiration date. So when they do, I buy them. Besides the obvious use of hamburgers, I've been using the meat for things like sloppy joes and spaghetti. Like I told myself: just because they're shaped into patties doesn't mean that's the only way I can use them!

A quick tip for further savings on those: quite often fresh meat is on Cartwheel at Target, which gives me the chance to save just a little bit more, thereby making the meat an even better deal!

5.   Did you know you can run K-Cups through your Keurig twice? Depending on how strong you like your coffee, you can either run the K-cup through on a medium then a small, meduim twice, or even large then small. Twice the K-Cups for the same price~ sweet! (I have my mom to thank for this nifty little tip!)

6.   OK, this one might be a little obvious to  but it's still worth mentioning because I didn't start doing this until a couple months ago: look at the back of your receipts. I've discovered that there's some pretty good coupons on them! One of the coffee shops I frequent has coupons for ½ off any beverage on them, our local Papa Murphy's Pizza franchise quite often has coupons on them, same for our local Fantastic Sams, the auto place where we like to get our oil changed, as well as one of our local nail salons; heck even our favorite Chinese restaurant and bagel shop have coupons on them. So next time you get a receipt from the grocery store, take two seconds to scope out the back~ then do what I do treat yourself to something fun like an inexpensive coffee or some tasty Chinese take-out on the drive home!

7.   About a year ago a neighbor friend taught me this trick: learn what gas stations double gas coupons and on what days they double them. I quickly realized that I easily save $2.00 or more at one of our local gas stations simply by going on double coupon day. Do this each week and that's $8.00-$10.00 that I have saved each month just with my car alone. That's $8.00-$10.00 I can spend on coffees at Starbucks. Or to start putting away for new clothes for the next season. Or for a dozen bagels at the bagel shop if I do #6! Or even to just put in my change jar. (see this post) Really, my choices are endless!

Add in the fact that I have Marty doing this too and that's a decent sum that we're each saving by the end of the month!

8.   Wrapping paper is expensive, and birthdays, babies, weddings, etc happen year round making buying that stuff a necessity. So? I've gotten into the habit of buying a few items whenever they're on clearance at stores like Target. Bows for a quarter??? I buy a few! I figure I can choose to spend $1.00 on four bows now or spend a dollar (or more) on one later.

9.   In need some cheap family entertainment?? Something that everyone in your family can do regardless of their age??  Try doing puzzles together. I owe this idea to one of my friends who has a tradition every year of doing puzzles while her kids are home over Christmas break. Really, when you think about it, puzzles are fairly inexpensive~ even when you buy them new. Of course they're dirt cheap if you buy one from the Goodwill or free if you borrow one from someone, but regardless, they're inexpensive. Add in a snack (or a lazy breakfast!) and we're talking good old fashioned quality family time without a big price tag!

10.  Did you know that at most salons if you're one of their clients you can get a complimentary bang trim every few weeks instead of a full haircut?? Ask your stylist about it! At my salon this equates to a savings of $35.00 instantly. And what can I do with that $35.00? I can: pay a bill, get a coffee, get an eyebrow wax, get a coffee AND an eyebrow wax, go to a movie with my husband or my kids, buy a new book or shirt, buy a new book AND a new shirt, or be smart and put it into savings.

I should mention that some salons charge roughly $5.00 for a bang trim, but either way? That's $5.00 versus $35.00--and you can't argue with that kind of savings!

So there you go, ten of my new favorite (and pretty painless) ways I save a few dollars! Although now that I think about it, and calculate it out, I save well over $60.00 in just four weeks time~ so I guess I'm saving more than just a few dollars!

if you're interested in some of the other ways i like to save money, check out my posts here, here and here

Linking Here:
Serving Joyfully