Sep 28, 2011

WFMW: How To Plan Inexpensive Family Vacations

Last week I wrote about how I plan fun family activities, and as promised, this week I am tackling Family Vacations.

Vacations are one of my VERY favorite things to plan!

I have a very good method, too, for planning and it never fails me!

Here we go:

First, decide where you're going!  For me, this is the toughest job.  There are so many things that factor into it, and the biggest one is what my family will enjoy most.

You kind of have to decide what you want in your vaca.  Beach time?  Amusement Parks?  Shopping and City Life?  Lots of choices to be made.  Once you decide that, you have to decide the details of exactly where/when you're going.

The way I scout these out is by starting early and spending time on the Internet.  I belong to a bunch of online sites that email me updates for vacation specials.  So I make sure to read those every week as well as hop around to different sites now and then.  You never know when an amazing deal will pop up.

One of my favorite sites are TRAVELZOO.  I use it all.  the.  time.  It sends me weekly updates about the best specials from just about every site.  Basically, they do the work for me.

Another tip is that I use Hotwire a lot.  It is kind of like Priceline, in that you don't see the name of the hotel before you purchase.  But you can see the star rating and the neighborhood.  It has never failed us.  In fact, I just made a purchase for around the Holidays and paid $77 per night for a room that cost $139 on Travelocity.  It's at a NICE hotel in a city that is hard to find inexpensive rooms.  (I would give more details, but it's a surprise for my family.  So you'll hear more about it later!)

As far as when to book, here are a couple more tips: 
-travel is usually cheaper in the fall and winter months.  Sometimes this isn't an option for families because of school etc., but if you *can* make it work, it will save you a lot of money! 

-Also, if you have to fly, try waiting to book your flight until about 3 1/2-3 months before your travel date.  The airlines will start decreasing their prices to fill up their flights, so you can grab an awesome deal!  But don't wait too long.  Last minute flights are often the most expensive.

Once your reservations are made, you can start thinking about the fun stuff!  For me, I sit down and write a complete itinerary for the trip.  I include activities, down time, meals, everything!  You can do this by going on the Internet and checking out the local scene.  Some great sites for this are TripAdvisor and Fodors.  They give reviews and tips for the places to see, eat, stay and shop. 

After that, I make a budget based on the cost for all of those things.  This way, I will know exactly what the cost of our vacation should be. I keep a list while we are there of what we have budgeted vs. what we spend.  If we save money at a few areas, we plan an extra activity or a nicer meal out with the money we saved.

(Note:  Be sure to include Hotel cost, Gas/Airfare, Parking, Gratuity, and spending money in your budget.  Those things add up and can be a BIG cost to your trip!)

And finally, here are some other random tips I have for planning family vacations:

-Buy tickets for attractions/activities online before you go if possible.  Often, this saves you money as well as time.

-Make sure to check out the websites or call of ALL the places you plan to visit during your stay to make sure they are open to the public during your time.  Nothing worse than getting the kids all excited for a fun day out and you get there only to find out they are hosting a private event or closed for construction that day :(

-Don't Be Afraid to Ask!  Often, you can get a discount for having a AAA or Entertainment card.  Sometimes, the hotel offers a discount for being a guest there.  Or maybe there is a place, (like a local grocery store), that has discounted tickets.  Be sure to ask the hotel staff as well as calling to ask the activity location to see if there is a way to save money.  Every dollar counts!

-Buy The Goodies at Home!  Kids ALWAYS want extras when they are on vacation, but somehow they always end up costing an arm and leg.  What we usually do is plan to let the girls each get one thing, (and we set a budget for them...usually around $20).  Other than that, I buy some items from the dollar store or wal-mart that and give them there "gifts" throughout the trip.  That way, they feel like they got some cool vacation toys and I know we saved a bunch of money!

-Plan, Plan, Plan...and then be flexible!  I literally plan every moment of our trips, but then I allow for flexibility.  If we wake up and decide we'd rather go to a movie instead of visiting the museum, then that's what we do.  Vacation is all about spending time together and being happy.  Decide before you go that your going to enjoy yourself and go with the flow.  It will be a much happier vacation for everyone!

Hope this helps you as you plan your next family vacation!

I will be linking up with WeAre THAT Family for Works For Me Wednesday!  Skip over and check out all the other great ideas!

Sep 27, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Couple's Halloween Costumes

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Halloween?

Well I do.

I love all the candy, decorations, cheesy haunted houses, and especially costume parties.

I am fortunate enough to have a couple to go to each year, and of course, my girls get to go to a few also :)

One of the fun, (and tricky), parts about costume parties are coming up with costumes for a couple that are inexpensive. 

I usually start trying to figure something out for my husband and I in July, (or as soon as I know the theme for the parties).

This year has been busy so I have gotten a late start. 

Basically, I have no idea what we're going to be.


Here is My Top Ten Couple Costumes on The Cheap!

10.  Tourists!  My husband and I went as this one year, and it was fun (and inexpensive!), to put together.  Get some goofy Hawaiian shirts, a hat, a fanny pack, a camera around your neck and your good to go.  If you want to throw in some socks and sandals for good measure, that wouldn't hurt either.

9.  Jack and Jill!  Jack has a broken crown and a little blood running down his face.  Jill has bruises and both are carrying pails.  Usually shirts that say 'Jack' and 'Jill' are a good idea too.

8.  Pregnant Lady and The Milk Man!  Could be controversial, but will definitely be funny!

7.  Bee Catcher and Bumble Bee!  Guy wears white or khaki shirt and pants and a hat with a net over it, along with white rubber gloves.  Lady wears all black with yellow stripes and wings.

6.  Clark Kent (Super Man) and Lois Lane!  Guy wears a button up white shirt and tie, with a Super Man Tee under, (have a few buttons open to see the Superman logo tee under), and the lady wears a business suit or skirt and dress shirt.

5.  Cousin Eddie and Katherine from the Christmas Vacation movie!  My sister and her husband went as this last year and it was hilarious!  She got her dress from Goodwill and he just wore a robe and hat, (make sure you have the plumbing tube, cigar and beer can if you want to make it authentic!)

4.  Napoleon Dynamite and Deb!  My husband and I went as this last year.  The Napoleon wig, glasses and 'Vote for Pedro' shirt are easy to find, (and not very expensive!), and Deb is easy!  Just put in a side ponytail, cuff your jeans, wear a polo shirt with your collar up and a few tacky bracelets.

3.  Adam and Eve!  You have to be careful with this one, but the costumes don't cost much... :)

2.  Sonny and Cher!  Get a long black wig and a crazy dress from Goodwill and the guy can wear polyester pants and an ugly shirt.  Make sure and get him the mustache too if he doesn't have one!

1.  Bride and Groom!  There are always cheap dresses at Goodwill, and you can just out him in a suit.  OR, you can put him in red and go as Kathryn and Will on their wedding day, OR you can rough it up and go as my friends did last year and be a redneck bride and groom...

I hope you got some good ideas!  I am linking up with Oh Amanda for Top Ten Tuesday!  Be sure to check out all the other great Top Tens this week!

Sep 26, 2011

Mix It Up Monday: Style Inspiration

Lately, I have had a number of people say to me,

"I just don't know how to put an outfit together.", or

"I never know what to wear.", or

"I can't figure out what looks right on my body."

I can totally relate to these comments.  I spend way too much time agonizing about what I'm going to wear when I actually have to leave my house.

Lately, though, it has gotten a bit easier for me, and one reason is Pinterest.

I know, I know.

You're getting tired of hearing about Pinterest.

But honestly, it has been a huge help to my life, and style is just one area that it has provided inspiration.

You see, I have a style pin board.  And when I see an outfit I like on the site, (or somewhere else), I just pin it so that when I am struggling with what to wear, I go to my board for inspiration.

This is an outfit I wore this week:

Cardigan: Garage Sale, Tank: Target, Shoes: Clothes Swap, Necklace: Boutique in Waynesville.

And here is the outfit that inspired my look:

Via on Pinterest

You see, I don't have the *exact* pieces pictured here, but I have items that are close.  So I put them together and I have an outfit that I like. 

I have loads of outfits pinned that I have started going to when I feel like I have nothing to wear.  Plus, it also gives me ideas for new outfits that might look good on me. 

If you're not interested in Pinterest, try checking out magazines, online style sites, or copying someone Else's style when you're feeling blah.

As always, I will be linking up with Momma Go Round for RMRS, and The Pleated Poppy for WIWW.  You can go there now for some instant style inspiration of your own!

Sep 23, 2011

The Grocery Shopping

One of my (many) jobs as a wife and mom is to do our family's grocery shopping.

My husband attempts to do the grocery shopping about once per year.

That never goes well.

Somehow we always end up spending double and all we have to show for it is a lot of frozen meals, guitar magazines and peanut butter and jelly.

{Those of you who know my husband know that he would NEVER forget the PB&J!}

So, I do almost all the grocery shopping in our house.

Which I usually don't mind that much.

I try to go in the evenings once the kids are in bed, or on Sunday afternoon when I can leave the girls at home with my husband.

Hey, I'll take any kind of alone time I can get!

But lately, I have been in a grocery shopping funk.

You see, I used to go to a pretty huge grocery store.  I liked it because the prices were better and there was a lot of selection.

But then we moved, so I just started going to the grocery that is closest, which happens to be just a little more expensive.

At first, it didn't seem to be an issue.  Maybe $10 more per week, which wasn't a big deal considering it saved me a lot of time.

But now it has turned into more like $30, which irritates me.

I know prices are going up everywhere, but unfortunately, my husband's salary has not.

So that money comes out of the budget that would be used for other things.

Like fun.

So lately I have been re-thinking my grocery shopping situation.

I am wondering how much I value convenience over being able to use my money in a more fun way.

I *could* trek over to Aldi and save A LOT of money on basics.  But then I would have to also go to Kroger or Meijer or Wal-Mart to get the other stuff I need.  And then I have essentially doubled my grocery shopping time. 


Or, I could just go to one of the bigger chain stores to shop for all my stuff.

It would save a little money, and time (compared to shopping at Aldi and another store), but the thought of having to deal with a huge store, lots of people, and only 3 lanes open and a cashier that you swear is being paid extra to move as slow as possible is just about enough to make me jump off the nearest bridge. 

So I just keep going to the near-by store, which isn't working either.

I need a new solution.

I asked some of my Facebook followers what they value in a grocery.

Kacy Maroney Houlton said "In our town in Texas we have an HEB and a Wal-Mart- while I would probably get a little bit cheaper prices at Wal-Mart its so much easier to get in and out of HEB in a lot less time with my kids. As long as I use coupons from the paper and instore coupons I can save some money and save time too!
Oh and at HEB the produce is always better and so to me not having to go to one store for pantry items and one for produce helps out alot." 
Most others who replied also said they would rather go to a store that would be a little more expensive if they can get the things they like and can save time.

Almost all of them said they do shop Aldi a lot, though, for the prices.

(If you don't have an Aldi near you, I am so sorry.  It is a lifesaver when the budget is tight!  If you do have an Aldi but have never tried it, give it a try.  It's not for everyone, but if you want to save money, don't mind having to bring the bags yourself, and paying cash, and you don't care about name brands, then you will LOVE it!). 

And this brings up another issue, which is coupons.

I use coupons almost every time I go grocery shopping, but I will never be an "Extreme" coupon person.  I just don't understand all of that craziness.

And who has time for that anyway?

So tell me, how do you decide where to shop? Do you value convenience more than money?  Do you Extreme coupon?  If so, what are some of your tips? 

Sep 22, 2011


So today there is a lot of stuff floating around in my brain.

I thought I would unload it on my blog.

You're welcome.

First, I have my first cold of the season.

It's yuck.

I mean, for sure I have been much sicker before, and I am able to do all the stuff I normally do.  But now I have to do it while being tired and with a stuffed up nose. 

I don't like it.

I even had to miss a girls night last night because I just needed to rest.

And you know if I had to miss a girls night, I am DEFINITELY not feeling well.

In other news...

I don't like the new Facebook.

And before you start, I have already seen that little snippet about how we should be grateful for this wonderful free service that we all get.

Yeah yeah.

But while it is free, (and I DO appreciate that!), I still don't like what they did to it.

It's harder to use, and it takes me more time to stalk the people I want to.  And I don't have more time.  Annoying.

But here's something I DO like:

My oldest daughter, Addy, who is in second grade made Student Council!  She had to write a speech and give it to her class and they voted.

A big deal for second grade if you ask me.

She was SO excited and I am SO proud of her.  I think this may be her first step towards being President of the United States. 

Am I getting a little ahead of myself?

Another thing I am excited about...

New Fall TV!

I am glad to have all my shows back.

And it seems like there are some pretty good new shows too.

Last night, I watched Revenge.  It kind of reminded me of how Desperate Housewives started.  Lots of mystery that is slowly unfolding and interesting characters that you aren't sure are good or bad. 

I'll keep watching.

I also recorded The X Factor.  I'll let you know what I think after I watch it.  I am curious to see if I will like it as much as or more than American Idol.

And I want to watch Pan Am too.

I know, this is the most thrilling blog post ever.


So tell me, are you watching any new shows?  What's good so far?  What do you think of the new Facebook?  Any miracle cures for the common cold? 

Sep 21, 2011

WFMW: How I Plan My Family Fun Activities

One of the reasons I started this blog was that everyone was always commenting on how much fun stuff my family does and asking how I find out about all of it.

I decided that if I had a blog, I could just pass all the info along to everyone, and then we could all be doing fun stuff :)

It turned out that was a lot of I started slacking a little on that part of it.

But I do want to share some of my fun-seeking secrets with you.

{Guess they won't be secrets for long}

{Not sure they ever just sounded good to write it that way...}

So here we go:

My #1 Tip is to plan ahead!  I am already planning/searching out things to do with the girls for The Holidays.  Lots of activities require tickets etc., so I want to be prepared and not wait until the last minute.  Plus, it usually saves me money to plan ahead. 

Another tip is to make a budget.  Decide how much you want to spend on family activities and then find the stuff that fits into that.  Otherwise, you can end up spending A LOT of money on stuff that wasn't really worth it in the end.  One thing you might try is one "paid" activity per week, and one free one, (example, go to the Children's Museum on Saturday, and do a picnic at the park on Sunday). 

One more tip is to be flexible!  I find out about a lot of stuff at the last minute.  For me, that's fine because I am always ready for fun.  But also, you need to realize that plans change.  Sometimes the weather doesn't cooperate, someone gets sick, or the place is closed.  The key is to readjust and make the most of the things you CAN do.

Now, if you want to know how I find out about all the great stuff we do, here are some suggestions:

First, I check our local online newspaper.  I go to the Entertainment section and search Things To Do for the date I want to plan an activity.  They are always listing fun things to do, and it gives me lots of ideas too.

One trick is that I always search ahead.  For example, this week, I went on and searched all the weekends in October to see what was coming up. 

Another resource I use is a local blog, Deals For Dayton.  She is always listing local activities and deals for families.  She even has a Kids Eat Free section and that is SUPER helpful for when we want to eat out for cheap.  If you're local, you will for sure want to follow her blog.

Another good idea is that when you go someplace you like, make sure and either follow them on Facebook or sign up for their email club.  Often I find out about great events right from the source. If you are worried about getting too much "junk" email, you can do what I id and create an email just for that kind of stuff.  I always use that address when I sign up and I don't check it everyday, but only when I want a coupon, (I get multiple ones per day), or to see if something fun is happening.

I also go to the surrounding city websites to see what they have going on.  We live in a suburban area and if there isn't something going on in my city, then I am probably likely to find something in a surrounding city.

Some other good ideas to search for fun activities are:

-Your Library Website for Story Times and Events
-Searching for Fall and Winter Festivals in your area
-Asking other moms/families around you what fun things they do
-Get an Entertainment Book.  They have great coupons and list dates for things like The Circus, Shows, etc.
-Check The Parks and Rec websites
-Local Museums for special events
-Look at last years calender and see what you did...then see if those same events are available around the same time.
-Spend some time on Google.  Start searching for things that are family friendly within driving distance that you would want to do.

I hope this helps as you plan for all of your local family fun! 

Next week, I will be posting on how I plan and find Vacation Family Fun, so be sure to check back for that.  Lots of inside tips on how to get good deals and travel on the cheap!

I am linking up with We Are THAT Family for Works For Me Wednesday! 

Sep 20, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Desserts I Want Someone To Make For Me

I have a Love/Hate relationship with desserts.

I love to eat them.

I hate having to make them.

It's not that I mind baking so much, but I'm just not that great at it.

If it's SUPER simple, I can pull it off.

Other than that, it's best if I stick to cooking.

BUT, there are SOOOOOO many yummy desserts that I have been pinning lately, and I want to try them.

So, who wants to make them for me??

I will cook dinner.

Pretty Please???

Oh well.  Here are the list of Top Ten Desserts that I am *hoping* someone will make for me :)

10.  Cherry Chocolate Kisses.  These look amazing and I imagine that they taste a little like Cherry Garcia Ice Cream, (which happens to be one of my faves!)

9. German Chocolate Brownie Bars.  Yes please!

8.  Pink Lemonade Pie.  I know summer is over, but this sounds too good to wait another year for!

7.  Apple Dumplings from The Pioneer Woman!  Anything by The Pioneer Woman is good, so you can't go wrong here!

6.  Pumpkin Crunch Cake!  Tis The Season...

5.  Best Ever Cream Cheese Cookies.   I think I should be the judge of that :)

4.  Slow Cooker Chocolate Nutella Bread Pudding!  You had me at Nutella...or Bread Pudding...or Chocolate...

3.  Brown Butter and Cheddar Apple Pie.  I LOVE Cheddar with Apple Pie so this sounds SUPER yummy to me!

2.  Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Madness.  If anyone tells me how many calories are in this, we cannot be friends anymore.

1.  Salted Caramel Tart.  I am *slightly* obsessed with Salted Caramel anything right now.  You can thank Starbucks for that.

So there you have it.  If you need my address to drop off the goods, just email me :)

I am linking up with Oh Amanda for Top Ten Tuesday.  Hop on over and see what the rest of the bloggy world is listing this week! 

Sep 19, 2011

Mix It Up Monday: Let's Go Dancing!

A few weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our 9th Anniversary.  We had agreed not to spend money on gifts, but I still wanted to do something special for him. 

So I got on Pinterest to search for ideas.  (Of course I did!)

And I found a GREAT one!   I planned one date per month for us that are in sealed envelopes and each month he gets to open one and we do it.

This past Friday was the first date, and it was Swing Dancing!

Now, my husband is NOT a dancer, so this was taking a chance that he would actually participate.

But since it was a double date with friends, and since it was a fundraiser for missionaries at our church, he went with it.

It was soooooo much fun!  We were totally not taking ourselves too seriously and it was great to do something we don't normally do together.

Before the evenings events, I was really struggling with what to wear.  It was a cool night here, but I knew that once we got to dancing, I would be hot.

Plus, I wanted to look cute on my date, but I still wanted to be comfy.

At first, I decided on a skirt with a short sleeve shirt and cardigan over it.

Skirt and Shoes: Goodwill, Black shirt: Old Navy, White Tank and Cardigan: Target

But this outfit just didn't seem like me.  I like all the pieces, and maybe to church or a wedding they would be fine.

But I needed something more fun.  So I changed into cropped jeans, threw on a different layering shirt and put a flower in my hair.

Cropped Jeans and Cardigan: Target, Shoes: Goodwill, Black Shirt: Old Navy, Striped Shirt: Clothing Swap (Old Navy), Hair Flower: Charming Charlie

There, that's more like me.

And my husband loved it too.  I think it's one of his new favorites :)

So this is what I wore on the first of our twelve pre-planned dates!

So tell me, what are some of your favorite dates?  AND, do you have a favorite date outfit?? 

I will be linking up with Momma Go Round for RMRS, and The Pleated Poppy for WIWW.

Sep 16, 2011

I Need Help

I have this problem.

The thing is, I don't know what to do about my hair.

You see, when I was young(er), my mom always kept my hair REALLY long.  Like, all the way down to my buppy, kind of long.

{That's what we call our behind in our house.  Because two little girls happen to think the word "butt" is hilarious and if we let them say it, they say it ALL THE TIME.  So we call it a buppy which is much less interesting.  Anyhoo...}

Then once, when I was in about 4th grade, she let me get it cut short and put in a curly perm.


I was a chubby kid, (being kind when I say chubby), with a round face.

Now just imagine that with short, curly, black hair and you can see why we went back to keeping it long.  (Oh how I wish I had a picture to show you...maybe I'll have to dig one up...)

After high school, though, I decided to cut it again.  Not quite as drastic, but just longer than my shoulders.

And after that, the crazy cycle started.

I would cut it, and then decide to go longer again.  Why?

Because I LIKE my hair long, but it takes much longer to do.  And I don't always have much longer.

So what happens?

I end up throwing it up in a knot or pony tail pretty much every day.

It's fine at first, but then I just start to feel like I have no style, and then I want to chop it off again.

Finally, last year, I went shorter than I ever had, (not including the clown look in the 4th grade), and even had highlights.

Here is what it looked like:

Now it is much longer again.  Not quite middle of my back, but getting there.

Plus, the highlights are gone and the black is back.

Here it is Now:

just so you can see the length...

And of course, I am thinking of chopping it off again.

Soooo, I need opinions.

What should I do?

Keep it long and black?

Long and put in some highlights?  (at least my pony tail would have some definition????)

Chop it off and keep it black?

Chop it off and go back to highlights?

Do something completely different?


Please oh please oh please give me your opinions. 

{But be kind whatever you do.  I don't want this to end in a depression that would lead me to have a Briteny Spears kind of meltdown and shave it all off.}

Sep 15, 2011

Things I Love Thursday: Disney FamilyFun Magazine

I have said before that I love a good magazine.

Now, usually these consist of gossipy, celebrity, shallow kind of stuff like US, People, OK!, In know, Quality Reading.

But I have also found a wonderful magazine that is like my Go To for stuff concerning my kids.

Disney FamilyFun Magazine!

I always find great craft projects, recipes, organizing tips, activity ideas, ways to save money...the list goes on.  I literally get giddy when it comes in the mail and I make time to read it cover to cover.

And my girls love reading it too.  My oldest will sit down and look through it and find things she wants to do and plan it out for all of us.  Reading it has actually become a family activity in itself. 

Plus, it's from Disney.  And you can never go wrong with Disney.

{Have I mentioned that I ADORE Disney?  Just checking...}

I am sooooo glad I made the investment in getting a subscription.

And, right now you can subscribe too for a GREAT price!  Living Social is offering a deal that is $5 for a One Year subscription or $10 for Two Years!!!!  That is a HUGE Bargain for this Magazine.

If I were you, I would be standing up doing the happy dance right now.

Or maybe wait for that until your first issue comes.

But a happy dance should definitely be involved.

I mean $5???  For a whole year???  Seriously??? I think a Happy Meal cost more than that these days.

Plus, Christmas is coming, (don't even get me started.  If you think you have seen me excited before, wait until you see me at the Holidays!), and YOU KNOW it's going to have some A-MAZ-ING stuff in there for Christmas!  Or it could be a great stocking stuffer!

I'm just full of ideas here people...

Soooo, if you are a great mom (or dad!), (or grandparent!), (or anyone else who has kids around!), and have made the oh so wise decision to subscribe to this genius of a magazine, you can click here to get the Deal!

Oh wait!  You don't subscribe via email to Living Social??  What?  You are missing out my friend!  So, I guess first, click here to subscribe to that (you won't be sorry!  Local deals delivered to your email inbox everyday!), and then come back here and click on the link to get the Disney FamilyFun Magazine Deal!

And then don't worry about rushing right back here to thank me.  I am happy when my readers are happy  :)

I am linking up with The Diaper Diaries for Things I Love Thursday, so be sure to click over and see all the other 'Things' getting blog love today!

Disclosure: The above links are Affiliate links.  By clicking on them and purchasing the items listed, I receive monetary compensation.  Please know that the opinions and reviews are ALL mine and that I would NEVER recommend anything to my readers that I do not use or like.

Sep 14, 2011

WFMW: Clothing Swap

So last weekend my friends talked me into going to my first clothing swap.

I had never been to one before and I wasn't sure what to expect.


Here's how it works:

You go through all the clothes in your closet that you don't wear anymore or are tired of.

{I have a lot, but since it was a last minute decision for me to go, I was only able to grab 29 items...}

You also include jewelry, shoes, scarves, purses, etc.

Then load them up and take them to the swap, where they are organized and laid out by type of clothing etc.

Everyone gets one sticker, (with their initials on it), for each item they brought.

Then there is a time period, (30 minutes or so), where you get to walk around and look at all the stuff and scope out what you like.

After that, it's time to put your stickers on the stuff you want.  You only put ONE STICKER on each item you want, and if you have some left over, you keep them. 

Now, at the end, there will be more than 1 sticker on lots of items. 

For those items, an auction takes place.  Basically, you say, "I will bid 5 stickers" or whatever you think it's worth, and it keeps going until there is a winner.  Whoever wins the auction keeps the item and has to pay up the stickers, (that's what you use the leftover ones you had for), and whoever loses, gets their original sticker back so they can bid on other items.

Anything that only had 1 sticker goes to that person without going up for auction. 

After the auction is over, there is about a 30 minute free-for-all that items with no stickers can be taken. 

After that, whatever is left is donated to charity.

This idea is seriously genius and why I have not heard of it before now is beyond me.  I mean seriously??  New clothes/shoes/accessories for FREE...who wouldn't LOVE that???

I scored 3 pair of shoes, a purse, a belt, 5 pair of cute socks, (I love cute socks!), a necklace, some bracelets, and about 6 shirts.

Here are a few suggestions I would have if you want to plan one:

-Make it a smaller group of about 10-15 women or so who have a similar style, and have at least 3 or 4 women who wear the same sizes.  That way, no one feels like they brought a lot of good stuff but didn't get anything that great.

-Make it organized!  It's hard when stuff ends up in a big pile and you can't really see everything. 

-Remember to have fun!  It's great to get some new stuff for FREE, but you never want to hurt anyone's feelings or lose a friendship over a pair of shoes you both wanted.  

So have you ever been to a clothing swap?  Does yours work the same way?  I'd love to hear all about it!

I am linking up with We Are THAT Family for Works For Me Wednesday. 

Sep 13, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: High School Football

I ADORE having girls.

The pink, the bows, the dresses, the dolls, the shoes...just about everything.

But I remember thinking, (when we decided we were done having babies), that I was sad not to have a boy because we would miss out on some of the "boy" things in life.

One of them being Friday Night High School Football Games.

I just didn't think that my two girls would enjoy it, and that we would end up missing out on something that I thought was so fun.

But then when my oldest daughter was in first grade, she started cheering for our Wee Elks team.

And around here, High School football is a pretty big deal...especially if your involved with the Wee Elks.

The HS games are more like college games. 

The stands are filled, everybody is WAAAAY into it, and there is usually a lot of action on the field.

So last year we decided to go ahead and take the girls to a game one Friday.  And whadoyaknow...THEY LOVED IT! 

So now, we are a HS football family.  And here are my Top Ten Reasons Why:

10.  A cheap way to have a Fun Family Friday!

9.  When else can you get dressed up like a lunatic and your kids AREN'T embarrassed by you??

8.  The people watching is great!

7.  It builds community.

6.  The kids love seeing their friends there and it becomes a friend/family tradition.

5.  Tailgating!

4.  You get a chance to see some great players before they head off to do bigger things...

3.  It's the one time you can stand up and yell crazy stuff at the top of your lungs and everyone totally gets it.

2. The feeling of pride and excitement you get after a big win!

1.  Nothing else says FALL like a crisp Friday night at the stadium under the lights!

So, if you haven't given HS football a chance yet, give it a try.  You may end up a Super Fan :)

GO ELKS!!!!!!

I am linking up with Oh Amanda for Top Ten Tuesday!  Check out all the other Top Ten Lists!

Sep 12, 2011

Mix It Up Monday: My Gray Uniform

So when I went to look at my pictures for this week, I realized I pretty much wore the same thing every day this week. 

A pair of jeans with a top and a cardi. 

And there seems to be a theme of gray.

It's funny that I didn't even realize I was doing this until I actually looked at the pictures.


I guess my goal for this week will be to 'Mix It Up' a little more :-)

But for now, here's a few of the outfits I wore this week:

Going out for Girls Night:

Cardigan and Black Dress: Target, Jeans:  Goodwill

Cardigan and shoes: Target, Tanks: Gap Outlet, Jeans: DressBarn

Don't be fooled...I put a black cardi over this later in the day...But Check out those shoes!!!  I got them for FREE at a clothing swap I went to this weekend.  Awesome idea!!  More about that on Wednesday!

So tell me, do you always find yourself going to the same things?  What colors or wardrobe pieces do you wear the most??

As always, I am linking up with Momma Go Round for RMRS, and The Pleated Poppy for WIWW.

Sep 9, 2011


...Or at least it is for me!

Starbucks now has Salted Caramel Mocha's!!!!

Okay, maybe it's not the BIGGEST news, but trust me when I say that once you have tried it, you will think it's pretty big too.

I just had my first one this morning, and it was beyond words.  (Thanks to my friend, Jenny, for letting me know about it and to my sister for picking one up for me on the way to my house this morning!)

If you have had the Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa at Starbucks, then you know the goodness I am referring to.

It is that, with coffee...I mean c'mon.

Does life get any better??

Maybe.  But not for me on this tired Friday morning.

So go on out and treat yourself to this Crazy Goodness in a cup.

You can thank me later :)

Sep 8, 2011

Things I Love Thursday: My Slow Cooker

I love a Crock Pot meal.

They are easy, and almost always turn out perfectly yummy.

I got my first slow cooker when I was about 25 and we became good friends.

Such good friends, that I think I used the love out of it.

I say that I used the love out of it, because eventually, it stopped loving me back.

My stuff was starting to not cook just right and I wasn't getting the perfect meals that I had become used to. 

So I knew that it was time to get a new one.

And lucky me, I got one for Christmas!

I LOVE my new slow cooker!!!  It is a black Rival Crock-Pot and it's bigger than the old one and has a timer on it so that I can set it and forget about it.  Plus, it is very affordable!  At around $40, it is a real bargain for all the home cooked meals you will be enjoying.

And now ALL of my crock-pot meals are coming out great again, and since the weather here has taken a chilly turn, I am getting good use out of it. 

(Although, I also use my slow cooker a lot during the summer months too.  It's just so easy...)

If you haven't become good friends with the slow cooker yet, what are you waiting for??  I promise you that you won't be sorry!!

And to get you started, I am including two of my favorite slow cooker recipes.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Slow cooker Lasagna:

1 lb. ground beef
1 jar 24 oz. spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1 container 15 oz. Ricotta Cheese
1 pkg. 7 oz. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1 egg
2 Tbsp.  chopped fresh parsley
6 lasagna noodles, uncooked

Brown meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and water. Mix ricotta, 1-1/2 cups mozzarella, 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, egg and parsley.
Spoon 1 cup meat sauce into slow cooker; top with layers of half each of the noodles (broken to fit) and cheese mixture. Cover with 2 cups meat sauce. Top with remaining noodles (broken to fit), cheese mixture and meat sauce. Cover with lid.
Cook on LOW 4 to 6 hours or until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses; let stand, covered, 10 min. or until melted.

Slow-Simmering Pork Sandwiches  

2-1/4- to 3-pound pork shoulder roast
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin or chili powder
3 cups barbecue sauce
12 to 16 kaiser rolls or hamburger buns, split
Red onion slices (optional)
Dill pickles (optional)
Trim fat from roast. Cut roast, if necessary, to fit in a 3-1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker. Add water, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and cumin or chili powder. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10 to 12 hours or on high-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours.
Remove meat from the cooker; discard cooking liquid. Using two forks, pull meat apart and return it to the cooker. Stir in barbecue sauce. Cover and cook on high-heat setting for 30 to 45 minutes or until heated through.  Serve meat mixture in split kaiser rolls or hamburger buns with onion and pickles, if desired. Makes 12 to 16 sandwiches.

I am linking up with The Diaper Diaries.  Check out all the other stuff getting blog love today!


Sep 7, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday: Anniversary Edition

This past weekend my in-laws were kind enough to take our girls for a couple of days so my husband and I could celebrate our ninth anniversary spending some alone time together.


Getting to sleep in til 11am on Sunday was completely amazing, and that alone was a wonderful gift to me.

But I have to say, my husband outdid himself this year.

It started when I got an email last week inviting me to spend the weekend with him, followed by an itinerary of the weekend events that he had planned all by himself.

Now, this may not sound special to you, but I don't think my husband has planned a single date since we started dating, (even our first one).  So this was SUPER special to me!

Plus, he included a mystery location for part of the date, so I was excited for the surprise.

And I wasn't disappointed.  My wonderful husband had re-created our first date!  It was thoughtful and sweet, and I just love him to pieces for it!

And now here are some of the outfits I wore for our special weekend:

This is what I wore while antique shopping on Saturday, which was a SUPER hot day!  Shirt: Avenue, Shorts: Target, Flip flops:  Banana Republic

This outfit I wore out on our re-created first date.  Sweater and shoes:  Target, Dress: Gap Outlet, Necklace: from a cute little antique shop in downtown Waynesville

I wore this while we did more shopping the next day.  Shirt:  Goodwill, Sweater:  Target, Jeans: Dressbarn, Flip flops: Banana Republic

This was our family Monday when we picked them up to take them to The Labor Day Festival and the weather had turned really cold!  Sweater: Target, Tanks:  Gap Outlet, Hat: Charming Charlie

I am linking up with the Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday and Real Momma Real Style at Momma Go Round!