Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kid-Friendly Christmas Decor

I have a hand-painted, ceramic nativity set that my grandmother made herself when she owned her own ceramics shop. Every year when I pull it out, I take a little stroll down memory lane... And then I'm sure to place it on display where my kids are unlikely to ever reach or touch it.


What's the fun in that for your kids? Just one more thing they can look at but not touch? Christmas decorations are so fun, but most are very, lets say, best left along by chubby, tiny hands. I've loved Christmas my whole life, but now, as a mother with young kids, Christmas seems to take on an extra special meaning. I want to build fun memories and traditions with my kids that they can cherish their whole life through. (Let's be honest, though, that's basically every mom with young kids, right??)

Well, combine the desire to decorate for Christmas with the desire to build fun memories and you get- kid friendly Christmas decor! I have a few breakable, irreplaceable heirlooms that I display out of reach, but each year, I set up a kid-friendly display of Christmas decor that can be played with and then put back on display.

Please note the tiny fingers, ready
to wreak havoc on the display.
I love it.
What do I use? Felt elf hats with bells on top. A little metal pail filled with jingle bells. A plastic Nativity set. Christmas books. A sturdy musical snow globe. A small felt Christmas tree with 'gift boxes' filled with ornaments the kids can stick on it. A wooden sign with the word 'LOVE', all attached with double sided Velcro, so the kids can remove the letters and stick them right back on. Fun, hands on toys that can double as decor!

The display gets taken down and put up and scattered and re-set up multiple times, I assure you... But it's just so fun! My kids LOVE to be able to 'decorate' and play with decorations all on their own, with no mommy to come and scream 'don't you dare touch that, child!' I personally love that last part, too- no screaming! Yes, a handful of items are off limits, but the bulk majority (including one Christmas tree that is entirely filled with cheap, plastic bulk-store ornaments) are fun decorations that THEY get to be a part of doing. Over. And over. And over again. Because repetition is a mom's bread and butter, am I right? Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Furnishing Your Home on a Dime

For many years, it was necessary for me to decorate on a dime. By getting furniture at Goodwill, shopping yard sales, inheriting goods from my parents and above all, by grifting.

Image result for goodwill funny gross
Never know what
you'll find at Goodwill...
Grifting. This could well be one of my favorite words. A good friend has grown tired of something and decides, on a whim, to bestow me with it. It's like a gift... except it's used... and it's better than new! Through grifting, I have gotten sofas, chairs, cribs, mattresses, beds, rugs, toys, playhouses, you name it! In fact, if you look through my home carefully, you'll find an assortment of items that have been grifted to me, some as they are, some transformed through paint or new fabric.

As wonderful as it is to spend little to nothing on new decor for my home, it can be difficult to get the style you want without spending ANY money. Luckily for me, a new chapter has opened in my family's life, where I can actually go to the store and buy things I like! Amazing. Makes me feel like Cinderella at the ball to walk into a furniture store and be able to pick out anything I want!

That is, until I see the price tag. Perhaps it is because of my years of being on a tight budget. Perhaps it is my inherent desire to get a bargain. But whatever the cause, I have found it difficult to just waltz into a store and buy something at full price! Goodness forbid!

This is why I am a fan of They give you an assortment of retailers to peruse, as well as the ratings for each company, which is great! see, instead of merely offering a plethora of furniture and appliances all at full price, they have options for the budget-conscious mind (like mine, of course!)  and they make it possible for almost anyone to get the furniture and appliances they need.

  • Buy New or Second Hand
  • Use a Finance Option: Pay Weekly, Monthly or Pay Later
  • Make Use of Sales & Discounts
You can buy something new. At full price. If that fits your fancy. BUT. As a company, they offer second-hand merchandise, something unique with furniture companies (AND bargain saving). Not only that, they allow you several payment methods- right this moment, weekly payments, monthly payments, delayed payments (cause, hey, much as I hate debt, sometimes your fridge goes out and you HAVE to have a functioning one... immediately!) Then, of course, they have sales/discounts.

Bottom line, they have assembled with this company everything you need to make a worthwhile furniture purchase- many companies to select from, ratings included, AND the ability to buy what you need in the way that best suits you and your fam. Which, in the end, is the most you can ask for from any retailer- tailoring your purchase to your unique lifestyle.

(Did I mention they are based out of the UK? AKA, let my inner anglophile rejoice!)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hot Tubs: Hotel, Home, or Inflatable?

Living in the Rocky Mountains, it was the dream of everyone I knew to have access to a hot tub. Was it the plunging temperatures each winter? The fact that it took so long for spring to come? Or perhaps that even in the dead heat of summer, once the sun went down, you'd STILL face a chill in the mountains? Regardless, each apartment complex I lived in boasted a hot tub. It seemed that a hot tub was necessary to induce renters on any level and I came to feel that a hot tub was more of a necessity than a luxury.

Of course, it only took getting married and having a few toddlers of my own to realize that the relaxing, warm, bubbly goodness that is a hot tub was, indeed, one of the finer luxuries in life: one I no longer had access to once I moved to an actual house. What were my options- to buy my own? Have a permanent pass to a local hotel? Neither option seemed reasonable or, honestly, within my budget.

Now, a dear friend of mine is married to the classic impossible-to-shop-for-man. He has very little in the way of wants and what he does want he immediately buys for himself. Each birthday, anniversary, and Christmas, she plots and schemes for months to find SOMETHING he will truly want. And, inevitably, success eludes her.... until.... her dreams came true!

Her husband had always wanted a hot tub, which was far out of their budget range, so had never been an option- until a good friend moving away offered her a used hot tub-get this-free of charge!

Image result for old broken hot tub gross
She snapped up the offer with excitement! It was explained to her that it was a bit old and might need new siding. Excitedly, she was up to the task. Until the tub was actually delivered. Delivery alone was more than she expected to pay! Then, of course, to pay someone to remove the old siding. And pay someone to replace a broken tube. Next, pay someone else to fix a broken section her dog attacked when she was at the store. Then an electrician to connect the special electrical lines from the tub to her house (did you know that this was even necessary!? I just thought you could plug it in- NOPE! $1,500 dollars later....) You think her troubles would be over, right? No! Apparently it had to be approved by the city for her to install the special electrical box the tub would require. Another fee. And wait, the siding still hadn't been installed! For this 'free' hot tub, it took her two months and far more than she had ever intended to spend, just to get it in working order!

After hearing her ordeal, phone call by phone call, it seemed the luxury of a hot tub would be ever out of my budget-savvy reach. After all, if a 'free' hot tub could cost thousands of dollars, how would I purchase, then pay for electric, then pay a city planner, then pay for delivery etc. etc. etc. of a NEW tub!

4 PersonLuckily, I have recently learned that there's another option! Inflatable hot tubs. We've all seen kiddie pools for a single summer use at every big box store- but I did not know, until recently, that there were inflatable hot tubs! All the luxury of a hot tub, but portable, stress free, AND did I mention a bargain? Don't believe it? Skip the search engine, just check it out here at If you've ever had a desire to get a hot tub yourself, at least consider this time, stress AND money saver option- I'm guessing your wallet will thank you.

5 Ingredient No-Bake Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

It's simple: I wanted a treat for a peanut butter-loving friend, but had only a few minutes to get said treat together. The answer? A simple, chewy, delicious solution that requires only 5 ingredients.

* 1/2 cup melted peanut butter (microwaved or warmed in a pan on the stove until the consistency of syrup)
* 3 Tb softened butter  (can sub shortening/margarine, but butter tastes mucho better)
* dash salt
* 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
* chocolate kisses

Ideal consistency
Simply combine all four ingredients into a bowl, stir thoroughly with an electric mixer. The dough should be almost crumbly and not sticky. If it feels a bit sticky, add 1/8 cup of powdered sugar. Form into balls. Once formed into balls, press an unwrapped kiss into the middle. Enjoy!

Small cookies on the left,
medium on the right
If you make tiny balls, this recipe will make two dozen cookies. If you go for a medium sized cookie, this recipe makes about 15 cookies. (Check out the photo for medium/small sizes)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

French Toast from Leftover Hamburger Buns

I don't like to waste food. This is a fact. My family likes to eat hamburgers and hot dogs. This is another fact. Sadly, my family seldom eats hamburgers OR hot dogs in multiples of eight's, which means we end up with leftover buns that end up getting tossed out.


Use leftover hot dog/hamburger buns to make french toast!

*They are thicker than traditional bread slices, which makes for thick, deep, delicious french toast.

Fry 'em up

*Have lots of leftovers? Fry them ALL up as french toast and freeze them on a cookie sheet- once fully frozen, pop them into a gallon zipper baggie for easy breakfast or snacks.

*Perfect for stale buns as well!

I know it may sound a bit odd, but it turned out to be some of the best french toast I've ever had!

Cut into chunks and ready for the freezer!
(regular bread french toast on top, hot dog bun toast on bottom)


*5 eggs
*1/2 tsp vanilla
*1/2 cup milk
*1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix all four ingredients until well combined; dip bun into mixture until fully immersed (wet on both sides) and fry on medium high heat in a greased frying pan on both sides until browned.

Enough for 8 buns.