Affiliate · Bargain Buys · Budgeting · Easter · Family · For the kids · Frugal Life · Holidays · Parenting

Dollar Tree Easter Basket Ideas

I was compensated for this post. This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

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A common misconception is that the only way for kids to have a childhood full of memorable holidays and fun traditions is to spend a lot of money…..I’m here to tell you that is just.not.true.

This is one of the many reasons why I LOVE The Dollar Tree.  I love watching their season aisle.  It’s fun to see what they bring in every year.

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Every year I buy my kids Easter Basket Stuffers from The Dollar Tree spring section.  This year I spent a total of $6 per basket, making the grand total for 3 Easter Baskets only $18!  AND!  I know my kids will love them (yay!).

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The Baskets

Fortunately I didn’t need to buy baskets, grass filler or plastic eggs because I save each of these things to use year after year.  These current baskets have last me over 5 years and I’m sure they will last another 5!  This saves me a few bucks every year, but those few dollars add up to big savings!

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However, if you are needing new baskets or plastic eggs The Dollar Tree has you covered!  Their Easter aisle is packed full of eggs and grass in every imaginable color and Easter Baskets for every personality.

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Teen Girl Easter Basket

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My 13 year old daughter loves all things artsy, tendy and girly; and I found the PERFECT items for her basket that fit these categories.

I was so excited when I found these darling faux potted cactus’s at The Dollar Tree.  My daughter has a slight obsession with cactus’s at the moment (and tells me so do all of her friends….) so I knew this would be PERFECT in her basket.

I also found this fun Caligraphy book to help teach her pretty lettering, white nail polish, and a colorful kite.

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Tween Girl Easter Basket

Next up was my 10 year old daughters basket.  She is pure girl and loves using her hands in the kitchen or at the table crafting.

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I found a nice selection of hands on science kits at The Dollar Tree and ended up buying this Crystal Growing Kit.  We have tried to grow our own crystals at home and have failed every time!  I’m hoping to have much more success with this kit!

She’s also getting a kite, some chapstick (don’t you love those spring colors!) and a Spiral Art set.  Did you love Spiral Art as much as I did as a kid????  So fun!

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Boy Easter Basket

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Last, but certainly not least is my 6 year old sons Easter Basket.  He is all boy through and through and just wants to be busy and active all of the time.

I found a box of sidewalk chalk at The Dollar Tree and decided this would be the perfect way to get him outside during spring.

His basket is also filled with a kite, a cute robot on canvas to color and a slinky.  He has ALWAYS wanted his very own slinky (little bother problems, amiright???) and I can’t wait for him to see this one.

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The Candy

What’s Easter without some candy????  The Dollar Tree has you covered!  I’m serious.  I have a slight (ok, serious) addiction to Sweet Tarts Jelly Beans….have you ever tried them???  So good!  I was very proud of myself that I left the bag at the store, otherwise, the entire bag would have been gone before I even left the parking lot (only kinda kidding…).

I DID buy a few pieces of candy for the kids though.  Starburst Jelly Beans (also so good!) and chocolate bunnies to name a few.

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Do you love filling easter eggs with candy?  I totally do!  There is something so fulfilling about it!

 

My kids will wake up on Easter Sunday, anxiously walk into our living room area, run to their Easter Baskets and proclaim with excitement about what it’s inside.  They will laugh, they will smile, and they will remember their childhood with all the warm fuzzy memories we want them to have…..and all it cost was $6.  Thank you Dollar Tree.

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You Might Be Interested in my Other Easter Posts:

How we are going to help our kids remember the TRUE meaning of Easter

Easter Egg Sun Catcher

 

 

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Farmhouse · Frugal Life · Frugal Living Challenge · Homemade · Recipes

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup Mix Recipe

Did you know that you can make your very own Cream of Chicken Soup Mix?  Yep!  You can!  And guess what, it’s also incredibly easy, quick and frugal to whip up.  (hooray!)

I really don’t like buying the canned soup in the store, but sometimes I just want a good old fashioned recipe with Cream of Chicken Soup in it, ya know???

I came across this recipe years ago and have been using it regularly ever since.  It tastes so much better than the cans, and is a lot less processed.  I use it in soups, stews, casseroles, etc.  All you need is a little water added to the mix and you’re ready to cook!

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Cream of Chicken Soup Mix Recipe

Ingredients:

1 3/4 Cups Flour

1 1/2 Cups Dry Milk Powder

3 Tablespoons Chicken Bouillon

1 1/2 Tablespoons Dried Chopped Onion

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

And you are done!  I like to store my mix in a quart sized mason jar.

To Use:

When ready to use, just mix 1/2 cup of soup mix with 1 1/4 cups water and substitute in any recipe calling for a can of Cream of Chicken Soup.  Be sure to write the instructions on the jar lid, so you’ll always remember!  😉

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You might also like a few of my other recipes:

What to do with your bulk chicken; including 6 Freezer Chicken Recipes

Homemade Graham Cracker Recipe

What I Learned From the July Pantry Challenge

Budgeting · Family · Finances · Frugal Life · Money Helps · Parenting

Here’s What You Should Do When Unexpected Expenses Arise

Every month my husband and I sit down for our monthly budget meeting.  Is it fun?  Nope.  Do I look forward to it?  Big no!  Do I do it anyways because I know it will save me money and I love to save money????  Absolutely!

The monthly budget meeting is the time for us to discuss the previous months budget.  We go over what worked, what didn’t work and we put together a budget for the new month.

Our budget is a zero based budget, meaning every single penny that comes in during the month is budgeted to a certain category.  There is no excess.  This not only helps keep us on track, but it also means we have to stick to what was budgeted, no exceptions!

We try to brainstorm every expense that is likely to arise over the next month.  Sometimes, we forget something….or other times expenses that we had no way to plan for happen.

Take last month for example.  We had our budget meeting and thought we were entering the month prepared.  A couple of week later we found out that we were going to have to pay $120 for my daughter to participate in track.  We had already agreed that she would be allowed to do track this year, we just didn’t realize how soon that fee would be due.

So, we went back to our budget and made it work.  We were able to cut a few other expenses down in a different category so that we could come up with the $120.  We have done this enough times that it’s become very easy and low stress.

Here are 5 Ways You Can Prepare (or tweak) Your Budget for Unexpected Expenses

What to do When

Emergency Fund

It is so so so important to always have an Emergency Fund in place.  I can not stress this fact enough.  Emergencies will arise!  Now, my daughter participating in track is not categorized as an emergency, but other unexpected expenses might be!

It’s not fun to think about the emergencies that might happen, but it’s necessary.  I’ve shared before about how difficult it was for our family when my husband unexpectedly lost his job.  It was awful.  But.  The one thing that kept us going and kept me calm was the fact that we had an emergency fund in place.  That fund gave me the assurance that we would be ok.

It can be hard to want to grow your emergency fund, especially when you have dozens of bills to pay, retirement to save for, mouths to feed, debt to pay off, and a life to live….I get it!

If you’re struggling getting an emergency fund, start small.  Try saving just 2% of each paycheck.  As it gets easier to do, slowly increase that percentage.

Also, set up a direct deposit so that the money is automatically deposited into your emergency savings account.  This way you don’t even have the choice to use that money for anything else.  If you never even see it, than you won’t even miss it!

Miscellaneous Category

Make sure you have a “miscellaneous category” included in your monthly budget.  We put $150 into miscellaneous each month.  This money is used for all of the situations that arise, but weren’t planned for.

When my daughter came to us with the information that it was time to pay for track, we knew we could cover it with our miscellaneous budget.  However, we also knew that we would need to watch our spending in the other areas to make sure that no other “miscellaneous” items arose.

Pause Spending

Put a pause on all unnecessary spending for the rest of the month.  This may include items like going out to eat, clothing, groceries (try a pantry challenge), entertainment, etc.  This is not an easy adjustment, but remember it will be temporary.  Many times the spending freeze will only need to be for the rest of the week, and then you can start fresh the next month with a new budget.  Oh how I love a fresh new budget!

Make Extra Money

If you need some quick cash, consider selling a few items around your house.  This is actually my FAVE way to fix the budget (I love making money…I got it from my father 😉 ).  All it takes is 5 minutes of taking pictures and writing a brief description of whatever you need to sell, and bam!  You’ve made money! Here are 5 Websites you Can Sell Your Stuff for Quick Cash.

Take a look around your house to find a few items you haven’t touched for a few years (a basement storage room is usually the first place I look), and list that clutter for sale!  If you need some ideas, I’ve got you covered, just check out my article:  10 Items In Your House You Can Sell Quickly To Make Money

Keep Stepping Forward

Most importantly is that you don’t let the unexpected expenses discourage you from your big goals.  There will always be bumps in the road, financial goals will never ever be easy and smooth.  But, you can overcome them.  I promise!

No budget is perfect.  Mine certainly isn’t!  But.  I keep trying every month to improve little by little.  Learn from each mistake and you will find every hurdle you come to will become easier and easier to cross.

 

How do you deal with unexpected expenses in your budget???  Do you have any secrets that have worked well for you?

Budgeting · Finances · Frugal Life · Money Helps

How to Recover your Budget From a day of Impulse Shopping

It happens to every single person…..and it usually happens more than once.  Everyone goes through moments of weakness when they throw all their common sense out the window, ignores their budget, and buys on impulse.

It actually happened to me just last week.  Yep.  You read that right!  Miss Sweet Frugal Life ignored her own advice and didn’t stick to her budget.

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Let me start at the beginning.

I have been slowly trying to decorate my music room.  When we moved into our house two years ago this room sat completely empty.  We have had to buy all new furnishings, and it has been expensive.

But, after years of buying a few pieces every month, I could finally see the finish line!  All I needed was a few items for the walls and then it would be done!  (yaaay!)

We did everything “by the book.”  We budgeted $50 for two frames from Hobby Lobby.  I stuffed my cash envelopes with the exact amount.  And I went shopping.

After a quick browse through the clearance section, I walked straight back to the frames.  Unfortunately, while on my way I walked past a picture that stopped me in my tracks.

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It was perfect and EXACTLY what I needed to finish decorating my music room.  I honestly thought that this picture was made for my house.  The colors and the style was just what I wanted and I already knew which wall I would hang it on.

I KNEW that I shouldn’t buy it.  I understand Spending Triggers and I teach people daily how to avoid them.  I stood in the exact same spot at Hobby Lobby for ten minutes while an internal debate ensued in my head.

I knew I shouldn’t buy it.  I only had enough money in my cash envelope to purchase the two frames, and I REALLY wanted the frames.

You all know how the story ends.  I let out a sigh, threw caution to the wind, and bought that picture using my credit card.

I’m not proud of this moment.  I sure wish I could tell all of you that I’m perfect ALL of the time and never impulse shop!  But, that just would not be true.  I’m just a regular lady trying my best….and sometimes that means failure.

Has this ever happened to you????  If it hasn’t yet, I’m sure it will someday!  Here are a few ways you can recover from impulse shopping.

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Give it a Day

Do not take off any tags or packaging for at least one day.  Set the item somewhere in your house where you will look at it often.  This will give you time to decide if you TRULY TRULY want to keep what you bought.

Most of the time when I do this exercise I learn quickly that I don’t want the item as much as I thought I did while at the store.  The guilt usually gets the best of me and I decide to take it back to the store.

Other times, such as the case of this picture I decide that I do really want to keep it and I am pleased with the purchase.

Return It

When the guilt is more than you can handle you should take whatever you bought back to the store and return it.  You can return just about anything, and it’s always super quick and easy to do, just make sure to always keep your receipts for a smoother process.

Whenever I return an impulse buy I immediately feel the guilt being lifted from me.  I have NEVER regretted a turn….but I HAVE regretted many purchases….think about it.

Sell Something

If you decide you DO want to keep your purchase, which is fine, you will need to come up with extra money to cover the cost.  One of the quickest ways to earn extra money is to sell something.  If you’re stumped on what to sale, I have an article all about what sales best!

This is what I decided to do last week.  I had a lamp in my music room that I liked, but I just hadn’t been loving.  I have been contemplating getting rid of it for months and knew that this was the perfect time to do so.  I quickly listed the lamp on Facebook Marketplace and was able to earn $40 from it!  This easily covered the cost of the picture (plus an extra $10)!

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Adjust Your Budget

It is perfectly acceptable to move money around in your budget from time to time.  Try not to make a habit of it, but occasionally will be fine.

Take a good look at your budget and see if there is anything you can adjust to cover the costs of what you bought.  Could you cancel your plans to go out to dinner that night?  Or pass on a new pair of shoes?  Find something (anything!) you can do without for this month and use that money to cover the cost of your purchase.

Side Hustle

If the amount you spent was considerably high you might want to consider getting a temporary (or permanent even!) side hustle.  Is their a skill you have that could bring in a little extra money?  Could you sell a craft?  Babysit a child?  Dog walk?  Clean houses?   I truly believe EVERYONE has MULTIPLE talents they can offer to the world to bring in extra cash.  Make a list of your talents and choose one or two to turn into a side hustle.

The Results

Honestly, I’m glad I came across this picture.  It completed our music room and it’s a purchase I am so happy with!

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BUT…..I should have waited to buy it until we budgeted the money for it.  I made a mistake!  I learned from the mistake!  And next time I will not make the same mistake again.

Budgeting, frugal living is not about perfection….it’s about PROGRESS!

Have you ever had a similar experience???  How do you recover from a spur of the moment buy???  Let me know in the comments!

 

You might be interested in a few of my other articles:

Budgeting for Beginners: FAQ

A Financial Tale of Two Sisters

What I have learned about living a sweet and frugal life on ONE income

Family · For the kids · Frugal Life · Good Ideas · Homemade · Parenting

A Month of School Lunchbox Ideas

After writing A Month of After School Snacks, I decided to start documenting our daily packed lunchboxes.  These are all very basic lunches, nothing fancy here. but this is our real life.  Real talk from a busy frugal mom who is trying her best to save money and raise great kids.

I am able to save roughly $350 per year simply by packing a lunchbox for my kids to bring to school.  It is one of the ways we cut unnecessary expenses from our monthly budget.

My parenting philosophy is always, “Keep it Simple.  Keep it Frugal.”  This article will not show you fancy ways to prepare your kids foods or creative new lunchbox ideas (those articles are fabulous, just not my talent); it WILL give you a small peek into what I pack inside my kids lunchboxes each day.

Full Disclosure:  I started writing this article in October, and then kind of forgot about it until February…..so this wasn’t one complete month, but a couple mashed together.  It IS a wonderful example of our regular lunches.

Tastytreats.com

Week 1

Day 1:  Bagel with cream cheese, goldfish crackers, orange, two peanut butter cookies

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Day 2:  Cut up pancake, syrup, oranges, gogurt

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Day 3:  PB&J Sandwich, pretzels, oranges

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Day 4:  Pear Butter Sandwich, oranges, goldfish crackers, granola bar

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Day 5:  Bagel with cream cheese, banana, granola bar

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Week 2

Day 1:  Cheese and lunch meat sandwich, applesauce, granola bar

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Day 2:  Two Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, granola bar, animal crackers, grapes

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Day 3:  PB&J sandwich, carrots, dried apples, cookie

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Day 4:  Crackers, pepperoni, lunch meat, applesauce, homemade graham cracker

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Day 5:  Pear butter sandwich, orange, gogurt

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Week 3

Day 1:  Tortilla wrap with lunch meat and mayo, roll, applesauce, peanut butter crackers

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Day 2:  PB&J sandwich, dried apples, carrots

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Day 3:  Turkey/Cheese on a Dinner Roll, Pretzels and Raisins, Orange slices

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Day 4:  Lunch meat and cheese sandwich, orange, applesauce, rice krispie monster

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Day 5:  Crackers, lunch meat, pepperoni, applesauce, grapes

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Week 4

Day 1:  Waffle Strips, syrup for dipping, orange, and a granola bar

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Day 2:  Peanut Butter & Honey Sandwich, Energy Bites, Orange

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Day 3:  Bagel with cream cheese, Crackers, Banana, Chocolate Dipped Valentine Cookie

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Day 4:  Frozen smoothie, cheerios, turkey/cheese roll

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Day 5:  Frozen Gogurt, Apple slices, Ritz Crackers, Pepperoni

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Affiliate · Amazon · Bargain Buys · Family · For the kids · Frugal Life · Good Ideas · Parenting · Valentines Day

A Frugal Family Valentines Day

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

If you’ve been following me on Instagram you’ve probably learned quickly that my philosophy on parenting (and basically life) revolves around easy and cheap!  Our Valentines Day Celebrations are no different.

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I read the other day that the average person spends just under $140 on Valentines Day.  This shocked me!  I understand that it’s fun to splurge a few times a year and I am a big fan of celebrating love and budgeting for joy.…but, I really believe this can be done without spending a lot of money.

Our Valentines Day is a celebration that includes my husband and I, and our three children.  I like to include my children because I love them too!  Valentines Day doesn’t have to only be about romantic love, it can be about all types of love!

Because we celebrate as a family my husband and I don’t usually have a typical Valentines date.  BUT!  For those of you who might prefer a date night out, I have some great free date night ideas just for YOU!  I’ll add the links below!

10 Ideas for Date Night at Home

20 FREE Valentine Date Ideas

Family Celebrations

Our Valentines Day may be frugal, but that doesn’t make it any less special.  This is a message I would love for everyone to embrace.  I spend very little money, but our day is just as lovely and fun as ever.  My 6 year old has actually been counting down to the day for weeks (not joking).

Mailbox Love

Technically our valentines day traditions begin a couple of weeks BEFORE February 14th.  Years ago I bought these darling tin mailboxes at the Target dollar spot (I love Target!).  I believe they were about $5 a piece, so not super frugal, but they have lasted us for years, and have been one of my favorite purchases ever (for reals).  I found a similar mailbox on Amazon here.

 

We use these mailboxes to “deliver” little love notes and handmade gifts to each other in the days leading up to Valentines Day.  It warms my heart every single time I watch one of my kids put a kind note into their siblings mailbox.  Real talk…..my kids fight a lot…..so these moments of kindness are just so so special to me.  I’ll usually give them a little pencil, eraser, or some type of treat and a few love notes.

Morning Love

Our Valentines breakfast is always heart shaped pancakes (click here for my fave pancake recipe).  This isn’t anything fancy, and my hearts are never perfectly shaped….but guess what!  My kids never care.  They love their heart pancakes, misshaped and all (kids are pretty awesome this way, aren’t they??).

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School lunchboxes are packed in the morning as usual, with the exception of a few extra goodies.  I throw in a 25 cent box of conversation hearts and a little love note from me.    Although, now that my oldest is 13 and in middle school I might just put her love note in her mailbox rather than the lunchbox….I have learned that teenagers aren’t the biggest fan of mom notes in their lunchboxes….go figure!  😉

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Dinner Love

Decorating is not my forte, but I try to set the dinner table a little fancier for this holiday.  I use our nicest tablecloth (which is really a cheap one I bought from Walmart 8 years ago), I light a few candles, and cut out some red paper hearts to place around the table.

 

I try to keep the dinner simple, yet fun.  One year we had a heart shaped pizza, this year I will be making a chicken pot pie with the top crust decorated as hearts.  The amount of money I spend on dinner is always in my regular weekly grocery budget, so no excess spending here!  Woo!

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Frugal Valentines Gifts

Every year on our dinner table I include a small gift for each of my kids, and something for my husband.  This year I bought them each a small box of chocolates from the Dollar Tree, my daughters both received a small necklace from Jane, and I bought my son a stuffed animal from the Dollar Tree.  My husband is getting a larger sized box of chocolates and a love letter.

 

These aren’t anything fancy and hardly cost me anymore, but the gesture means a lot to my kids and I have found them trying to follow my example.  The past few years my kids have been making their own little valentine gifts, and they secretly place these on the table before dinner.

If you are needing a more Valentines Day Gift ideas, I have a few guides listed below:

10 Valentine Gifts for Her under $10

10 Valentines gifts for him under $10!

Gift Ideas for Teen Girls under $25

25 Gift Ideas for Tween Girls; all under $25!

25 Gift Ideas for 5-7 year old boys under $25

Mothers Day Gift Guide: 15 FREE Gift Ideas

 

This is what Valentines is all about!  Not feeling sorry for yourself if you don’t have a special romance, not spending a fortune to prove your love to someone, it’s about spending time and thought to give service and love to someone you care about.

I was going to buy some strawberries and chocolate for an after dinner dessert and activity, but it honestly didn’t fit in this weeks grocery budget, so I didn’t.  I felt a little sad, because I knew the kids would’ve really enjoyed some chocolate dipped strawberries.  But, I ultimately decided they will have just as special of a day without that one activity.

What does Valentines look like at your house?  Share a few of your celebrations in the comments.  I would love to hear all about it!

 

 

 

You might be interested in a few of my other Valentines Posts:

Yarn Hearts: An Easy Valentine Craft for Kids

Chocolate Dipped Valentine Cookies Recipe

Crafts · For the kids · Free Fun · Holidays · Valentines Day

Yarn Hearts: An Easy Valentine Craft for Kids

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

A friend shared a brilliant idea with me the other day!  She said she uses a small Christmas tree for Valentines Day; instead of decorating it with Christmas ornaments she has a little box of Valentines decorations that she brings out every February and her kids get to decorate a Valentines Tree.

I thought this was such a cute and fun idea, I knew I needed to implement it in my own house!  I already had a small tree that I use for Christmas each year, the only problem is that I didn’t have any decorations for the tree….and I did NOT want to buy any.

I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to put together a few crafts with my kids.  First, we made a few hearts out of beads and pipe cleaners.  They were so easy, just stick beads on a pipe cleaner and shape it as a heart.  Done and done!

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Next, we made this darling Pom-Pom Garland.  I loved it so much and I can’t wait to make more!  You can find the tutorial here.

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And last, but not least, we put together these Yarn Heart Ornaments.  They were SO fun to make and easy enough for my 6 year old to join in.  I love the projects that all three kids can enjoy together!

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First, you need some cardboard hearts.  I grabbed a box from my large stash of amazon boxes and cut out a few hearts.

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Choose your favorite yarn color.  Here is one of my favorite yarn brands.  Use a little bit of tape to attach the yarn to the cardboard heart.

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Now for the fun part.  Just start wrapping your yarn around the heart.  Try to wrap it in different angles to make the design interesting.  It wasn’t easy to get all of the small nooks and crannies, but we kept working it and was able to get the entire heart covered.

 

When your cardboard heart is all covered and looks just right tie a small knot and cut off your excess yarn.  I tucked the knot underneath some yarn to try to hide it, which seemed to work well!  And guess what!  You are done!  That’s it!  We attached a few ornament hooks through the yarn and hung it up on our Valentines Day Tree.

I just love how these crafts and little tree turned out, and what’s even better….my kids love it!  They are so proud that they helped make all of the decorations; and seeing my kids happy faces is the best kind of valentine gift I could ever receive!

 

You might be interested in a few of my other Craft Projects:

Tissue Paper Pom-Pom Tutorial

The Easiest Halloween Pumpkin Tutorial

How to Make an Easy Nature Bookmark Tutorial

Easter Egg Sun Catcher

 

Affiliate · Amazon · Crafts · Family · Farmhouse · For the kids · Frugal Life · Frugal Living Challenge · Parenting · Valentines Day

How to Make Your Very Own Pom-Pom Garland

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

I recently discovered how to make Pom-Poms out of yarn.  These pom-poms turned out to be incredibly easy to make and so addicting!  My daughters and I spent all evening making pom poms and experimenting with different sizes and techniques.

We decided to turn these yarn pom poms into a cute garland for Valentines Day.  I love how it turned out and am already planning more garlands in other themes and colors!

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These were so fun to make, I thought I would share an easy tutorial with all of you!  I was able to use items I already had at home and didn’t need to spend any money (yay!), but you can find some quality yarn for less than five dollars and it will make hundreds of pom-poms!  I linked one of my favorite yarn brands on Amazon here.

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Take a small string of yarn (the softer yarns seem to work best!) and begin wrapping it around two of your fingers.

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Keep wrapping until the yarn looks a good size.  I just eyeballed it, but I probably twisted the yarn about 70-100 times.

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When the pom-pom looks right, cut the yarn leaving about 6 inches of a tail.  You will then push the tail through your two fingers and pull it out the other side.

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Bring the tail up on top of the yarn and push it through the top of your two fingers.  Pull it tight.

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Now, gently slide the yarn off of your fingers, making sure to keep the yarn pulled tight and kept across the middle.

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Knot the tail and wrap the remaining tail across the other middle, this will form a plus sign.  Pull it tight and knot it.  This will form four sections.  Tie another knot securing the yarn.

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Next, you will need to grab some sharp scissors.  I used my fabric scissors (aka:  “if anyone uses these for anything other than fabric they will be in HUGE trouble” scissors).  Begin cutting the loops apart in each section.  Make sure you do not cut the tied tail.  We only had this happened once, but it’s important to remember.

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Continue cutting all of the loops.  Once finished, it will not look very good and you’ll wonder if you did it right!  You did.  The pom pom just needs some fluffing.  Shake it, separate the pieces and try to fluff it out as best as you can.

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Once your little ball of yarn is all fluffed out it’s time for a haircut!  This is when you will see your pom pom begin to take shape.  Trim the yarn pieces until they are all even.  I also like to cut them fairly short, but not to short.  Play around with it a little bit and you will find the style you like.  My daughters kept theirs a little more long, it’s all personal preference.

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That’s it!  Your pom pom is done!  Isn’t it cute????  The first one takes the longest…..to be honest, I threw away my first five.  But, once I had a little practice I was able to whip them up much quicker.

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Stick some googly eyes on those pom poms and make little monsters for your kids, OR you can string it together to form a cute garland.  I chose the garland.

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After browsing through my house unable to find a string for my garland I resorted to the garage (I was refusing to spend money on this project!).  I found some string in mu husbands stash of “stuff” and it worked really well.  I have also heard that twine or even embroidery thread would work for garland.

Tie a knot at the end of your string and use the string to thread a needle.  You will then stick your needle right through the middle of your pom-pom, pull it along the string until it reaches the knot, and continue until your garland is at the desired length.

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Knot off the end and you are done!  You can hang your yarn pom-pom garland around your house, but we came up with a different idea.

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We decided to decorate one of our little Christmas Trees as a “valentine tree.”  We have been making little crafts for it all month and decided this garland would be the perfect addition!

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Let me know if you make a pom pom garland!  I would love to hear how it went.

Affiliate · Amazon · Family · Finances · Frugal Living Challenge · Good Ideas · Groceries · Grocery Haul · Walmart Grocery Pickup

How to Slowly Restock Your Pantry after Completing a Pantry Challenge

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I recently completed an intense Pantry Clean out Challenge.  The goal was to cut my regular monthly grocery budget ($400) in half.  By doing this we would focus on eating the items I already had stocked in my freezer and pantry.

I was fortunate to have had many friends on Instagram join me in this challenge.  I loved watching all of the progress and having a group to encourage each other and share all our frugal ideas.  To find more info about doing your own pantry challenge check out my article; What I Learned From the July Pantry Challenge.

What’s Next?

My most asked question about this challenge has been, “Will you spend a lot of money on groceries in February to restock the pantry?”  The answer is No.  That would defeat the whole purpose of the challenge.  Today’s article is going to explain how I will slowly restock my pantry while staying in budget!

ways to restock your pantry and stay in budget

Here are five ways I slowly restock my pantry:

1.  Budget for the Pantry

I have a weekly budget dedicated to pantry stock up.  This is $15 per week.  This pantry money is taken out of our $100 weekly grocery budget.  Because it has been budgeted and planned for, restocking doesn’t require any extra money or stress.

Some weeks the pantry budget is spent at local sales.  Other times it’s stashed away to save for another week.  It all depends on our current needs.

2.  Buy Multiples

It is very rare for me to buy just one can of soup or one bag of sugar.  The way I see it, if I’m going to buy one item, and I have a few extra dollars in my budget, than I might as well grab a few more.

I do 90% of my shopping using Walmart’s Free Grocery Pick (get $10 off your first order using this link).  I love this service for about 1 million reasons (really.), but a huge reason is the ability to watch my grocery total as I add and subtract items to my order.  Whenever I am below my budgeted $100/week, I will add on a few more pantry staples.  This helps my pantry to grow and keeps me in budget.

3.  Buy in Bulk

Watch for opportunities to buy grocery items in bulk.  Many groceries will be priced much lower if it is bought in bulk.

This could be done by shopping local grocery case lot sales.  To find a case lot sale near you be sure to talk to your local grocer.  In many areas these sales might be called different names or even unadvertised.  So, don’t give up easily, keep digging and talking to grocers!

Another way I love buying in bulk is through a meat co-op.  I have recently started buying my chicken from Savory Butcher.  Their chicken is priced right and are delicious high quality.  If you need some direction of what to do with your bulk chicken read my article; What to do with your bulk chicken; including 6 Freezer Chicken Recipes.

4.  Shop Sales

When you are trying to stock up a pantry, shopping the sales and deals will make this much more budget friendly.  Whenever I find a good deal on one of our many pantry staples, I stock up (even if it wasn’t on my grocery list!).  I do it within my “pantry budget,” and only on items I would normally pay full price for.

My favorite app to check for deals is the Flipp app.  It is completely free to download and extremely user friendly.  The app is updated weekly as the new grocery ads come available.  I browse it every week to find what the sales are and plan my menus/pantry stock up around those deals.  Many weeks I can’t find anything worth buying, but other times I find some really great deals worth buying.

5.  Take Advantage of Cashback

Always, ALWAYS take advantage of the cashback apps available!  These are not huge money savers, but every.single.little.penny adds up.  Whenever I see my husband throwing away a receipt without scanning it for cashback I ask him, “Would you throw 25 cents in the trash???”   Of course he wouldn’t.  But essentially you are losing out on free money if you toss a receipt without first scanning it into the apps.

A few of my favorite cashback apps for grocery shopping are:.

Ibotta:  This is my most used app.  Ibotta offers cashback on hundreds of items every time you scan your grocery receipt.  My favorite cashback offers are the “any brand” items.  These offers include items in the dairy, produce, and other grocery departments.  *If you sign up for Ibotta using my link you will receive up to a free $20 bonus!

Checkout 51:  Checkout 51 is similar to Ibotta, in that it gives cashback on participating items when you scan your receipt.  They don’t have as many offers as Ibotta, but it is still always worth checking.                                                                                                                        *If you sign up using this link you will receive $3 when you redeem your first offer.

Fetch Rewards:  Fetch is so easy!  This is by far the most user friendly app.  All you do is scan your receipt and you automatically earn points.  These points can be redeemed for gift cards to just about anywhere.  My favorites are Target and Amazon.  I really like Fetch because you can redeem your points at as low at $3.                                                          *Use the code: W1CTU for an automatic 2,000 points ($2) when signing up.

I will be using each of these 5 strategies as I restock my pantry AND stick to my normal budget.  I’m not perfect when it comes to a grocery budget, but I’m trying!  Just like I know we all are!

What do you do to stock your pantry AND stay in budget?  I would love to hear all about it in the comments!

Affiliate · Amazon · Christmas · Date Night · Family · For the kids · Frugal Life · Parenting

20 Family Friendly Board Games, all Under $20

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

If you know me, even at all, you know that I LOVE to play games.  I love the competition, I love the laughs, and I love spending an evening with my favorite people……while not having to spend any money.

Our little family has Family Game Night every Sunday evening.  I brought this tradition with me from my childhood and I have loved sharing it with my children.  I will usually pop some popcorn and cut up some fruit while my kids pick out a pile of fun games.  Everyone has their favorites and we try to play as many as we can.

I also love to get together with friends and family members for game nights.  The great things about games is that their is always something for everyone.  With hundreds and hundreds of games to choose from, every personality and preference can find a favorite.

Games are easy to share with others, making it so cheap for everyone involved.  Think about it!  If everyone bought just one game, and then gets together to share the games, you get to enjoy multiple games for the price of one!

Thrift stores are also loaded with games.  I can almost always find a high quality game for just a couple of bucks at my local thrift store.  They may not be the “new on the market” games, but they are always big favorites!

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I wanted to share a few of my families favorites game so that you can start your own regular game nights.  Each of these games are under $20 and family friendly!

Strategy Games

Citadels

Citadels is a quick game to play and easy to learn.  It has the perfect mix of strategy and lightheartedness.

Citadels Classic

Sheriff of Nottingham

If you are a good bluffer you will probably be great at Sheriff of Nottingham.  I am personally not a good bluffer, so this game is a little stressful for me!  But, I do really enjoy playing it.  It requires some strategy, the ability to bluff, and a little bit of skill.

Arcane Wonders Sheriff of Nottingham

Bohnanza

Bohnanza is a great game for older kids/teens.  It is a game of trading “beans” to plant in your bean fields.  It takes a little practice to learn the game, but once understood it is very addicting and has a fun strategy involved.

Rio Grande Games Bohnanza

CodeNames

Codenames is a very popular game, and for good reason.  You play on teams and use word association to try to get your teammates to guess which words you are thinking of.  It feels a little complicated when you first open the box, but it is actually really easy to learn.

Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island is interesting because you do not compete against each other.  It’s a strategy game, but everyone is on the same team.  Together, as a team you try to “save” the island before it sinks.  It can get a little stressful, but I love when our little family is forced (encouraged???) to work together.

Forbidden Island Card Game

 

Party Games

Watch Ya Mouth

Watch Ya Mouth is such a fun party game.  It is impossible to play without laughing the entire time.  Promise.  It is probably one of the funniest games I have ever played.

Mad Gab

It’s easy for all ages to play Mad Gab.  The game play involves scrambled words that you sound out to try to guess the correct phrase.  It’s so funny to listen to your teammates trying to guess the phrase while they sound the words out over and over.

Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples Junior is one of our families very favorite games.  It’s so easy to play and the rounds go very quickly.  Even my 4 year old enjoyed playing his cards and trying to keep up with the game.  I love that it is a game for everyone, even people who don’t like games!

Catch Phrase

My favorite party game is Catch Phrase.  The game is played in teams and you use word association to try to get your team to guess the word on the game unit.  The game goes fast and is easy for all ages.  The cool little Catch Phrase Unit even keeps score for you!  Yay!

Pit is fast paced and interactive.  You try to convince others to trade crops with you while they are trying to convince others to trade with them.  It is a race to be the first to collect all of your crops.  My kids love playing this game and it’s a great way to bring others out of their shell.

Telestrations

Telestrations is a mix between Pictionary and Telephone.  Everyone draws a word, then passes their drawing to the next person who guesses what you drew, this continues through everyone.  It’s so funny to see what the end product is!

Easy to Play Games

Cover Your Assets

The game Cover your Assets is fast, easy to learn and seriously addicting.  I’ve always loved money games and the ability to feel like a “quick millionaire.”  This is a great game for families!

Anomia

Anomia is a fun group game and works well for all personalities, even those normally quiet will start shouting and laughing while playing.  You do need to be able to read, so it is more fit for older kids.  It is small and compact which makes it easy to carry around on trips or over to someones home.

Everest Toys Anomia Card Game

Bananagrams

I absolutely love Bananagrams, or as my family likes to call it, Speed Scrabble.  It has the same strategy as scrabble, use your letter tiles to connect a words together in a grid.  But, it is fast paced and has an extra element of stress (in a good way).  If you are a fan of word games, you will love bananagrams!

Bananagrams Party Edition

Farkle

Farkle, or The Dice Game as I grew up calling it, is a game of luck and risk. The more you risk, the more lucky you might get.  It’s very easy to play, just simple rolling the dice and keeping score.  Farkle can turn into a lengthy game or played as a quick time filler.

Spot It

There is really no game like Spot It!  It is easy for all ages to play, has many different game play options, and each round goes quickly.  My kids can seriously play Spot It for hours!  We absolutely love it and I recommend it to everyone!

Spot It!

Clue

Clue is a classic, and for good reason!  It’s a good old fashioned mystery game as you make guesses trying to guess who committed the crime.  My kids love getting to go from room to room and write their suspicious in their “clue notebook.”

Kids love Exploding Kittens!  It’s simple to learn and so much fun to play.  The idea behind the game is so unique and original.  There is a little bit of strategy involved, but not necessary to enjoy the game.

Sequence

I grew up playing Sequence and it’s been fun to introduce it to my kids again.  It’s a very simple strategy, easy enough for young kids to follow.

Sequence Game

For Sale

For Sale is a game of buying properties and then selling properties.  It requires a little bit of strategy and a little bit of luck.  It’s easy for kids to understand and fun enough for adults to enjoy.  This travel version is cheaper than the original version, and more compact!

For Sale - Travel Edition

 

I’m always looking for new games to play with my family.  Comment below with YOUR favorite games!