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Christmas Tree Cookie Recipe

“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.”

One of my favorite Christmas Traditions as a young girl was my mom making these delicious Christmas Tree Cookies!  I knew it was Christmastime when I came home to these delicious treats after school.

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My mom is no longer living, so I have continued on the tradition by making them for my kids.  They are SO easy and I love the hint of almond flavor!

One of the best parts of making Christmas Tree Cookies is getting to use this fun Wilton Cookie Press.  It’s really easy to use, and you can usually find one under $10!  It comes with a dozen different plates with fun shapes for cookies.  All you have to do is fill it with the cookie dough, turn it upside down and press the trigger!  Out comes a cute little tree.

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Christmas Tree Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp almond extract

1/4 tsp salt

2 1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

green food coloring

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar together in mixer.

Beat in egg and almond extract.

Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Gradually add to mixer.

Add a few drops of green food coloring.  Mix well.

Fill Cookie Press with dough and insert the tree plate.

Use Cookie Press to make cookies on ungreased cookie sheet.

Sprinkle with red sprinkles.

Bake in hot oven for 8 minutes.

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They are so easy!  Your kids will look forward to them every year, I promise!

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Crafts · Family · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Homemade · Parenting · Recipes

How to Make Homemade Butter

I had a container of heavy whipping cream sitting in my fridge for a few weeks.  I kept looking at it, knowing I needed to do something with it, but never knowing exactly what!  My sister finally suggested to me that I should use the cream to make butter with my kids.

This actually turned out to be the best idea ever!  Making butter was so so easy, cheap, and my kids absolutely LOVED it!

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My kids loved shaking their jars and checking every 5 minutes to see if the butter had formed.  My daughter even said, “Wow!  They use to have to work hard in the olden days!  I can’t imagine doing this every time we needed butter.”  This led into such a great discussion about the conveniences we have now and how hard our ancestors had to work in order to survive.

You can make your very own butter; all you need is a mason jar and heavy whipping cream.

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Pour some whipping cream into the jar.  I filled our jars about half full, but if you are doing this with your kids I would recommend only filling it about 1/4 full.  I think it would’ve been easier and quicker for the kids if the jar had less cream in it.

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Now, you shake it!  Shake, shake and shake!  This took us about 45 minutes of hard shaking.  If I had done less cream I’m sure it would’ve been much quicker.

We turned on some music and danced while shaking our jars.

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The cream will slowly become thicker.  You will eventually notice the butter separating from the cream. The butter will form together in a nice solid ball.  Once this happens, you are done!  See, so easy!

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Drain the leftover cream, rinse your butter, and then transfer it to a plate.  Wah-lah!  You have made butter!

Now is the fun part!  Enjoy your butter on some fresh bread or rolls.  It really is delicious!

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

“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 will receive compensation from purchases made through links in this post.  Thank you!

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I just tried out Savory Butcher for the first time, and I was SO impressed!  The customer service was incredible!  The meat was high quality and delicious!  And the price is right!

I bought the 40 lb case of chicken for $1.99 lb, which is an awesome deal.  Their chicken comes fresh from the farm, already trimmed, and no added hormones, anti-biotics, or preservatives.  Savory Butcher also offers high quality bacon and ground beef.

Savory Butcher has limited delivery locations, so check to see if they will be delivering near you.  Currently they deliver to areas in Washington, Oregon, Utah and Idaho.  If you live in one of these areas, look into when they will be delivering near you.

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I just spent a couple of hours prepping my bulk chicken.  I love stocking my freezer full of chicken for quick, easy dinners.  I prepped 8 ready to cook dinners; and 6 bags of plain chicken.  It does take a little bit of effort to prepare your bulk chicken, but the amount of money you save is SO worth it!

 

Freezing Your Bulk Chicken

When preparing chicken for the freezer I highly recommend using a vacuum sealer.  The vacuum sealer will make the process simple and helps prevent any freezer burn.  My sealer was not working (resulting in quite a bit of frustration on my part!).  I decided to freeze my chicken in freezer bags instead.  The freezer bags will work, just not as well as the vacuum sealer!

Separate your chicken into dinner sized portions, this resulted in about 2-3 chicken breasts per bag for my family.  Place each portioned chicken into freezer bag, remove all of the air and seal tightly.

These will store well in your freezer for 6 months.

 

Freezer Chicken Recipes

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Slow Cooker Honey Chicken

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2 lbs. chicken breasts

Salt and Pepper

1 cup honey

1/2 cup soy sauce

4 Tbsp diced onion

4 Tbsp ketchup

2 tsp garlic powder

4 tsp cornstarch

6 Tbsp water

 

Combine chicken, salt, pepper, honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup and garlic powder in a freezer bag.

Let all air out of bag.  Seal tight and freeze.

When ready to prepare take it out of freezer and allow to thaw.

Dump entire bag of chicken and sauce into slow cooker.  Cook on low for 3-4 hours.

When finished cooking take chicken out of slow cooker and leave the sauce.

Combine cornstarch with water, stir well.

Add it into slow cooker with sauce.  Cook sauce on high until it begins to thicken (5-10 minutes).

Slice chicken into small chunks.  Return to slow cooker and stir with sauce.

Serve over rice.

Barbecue Chicken

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2 lbs. chicken breasts

1 container of barbecue sauce

 

Put chicken in a freezer bag.  Pour entire container of barbecue sauce on top.

Let all air out of bag.  Seal tight and freeze.

When ready to prepare take it out of freezer and allow to thaw.

Cook on grill.  Top with barbecue sauce to serve.

Lemon Garlic Chicken

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2 lb. chicken breasts sliced thin

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

 

Combine chicken, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper in freezer bag.

Put chicken in a freezer bag.  Pour entire container of barbecue sauce on top.

Let all air out of bag.  Seal tight and freeze.

When ready to prepare take it out of freezer and allow to thaw.

Cook chicken on grill.

Serve with rice and veggies.

Balsamic Chicken

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This balsamic chicken recipe is available as part of my Free 14 Day Frugal Living Challenge.  You can sign up using this link and my 15 favorite frugal recipes will be e-mailed to you on Day 3 of the challenge.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Tacos

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2 lb. chicken breasts

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

 

Combine chicken, tomatoes, brown sugar and red pepper flakes in freezer bag.

Let all air out of bag.  Seal tight and freeze.

When ready to prepare take it out of freezer and allow to thaw.

Pour chicken and sauce into slow cooker.

Cook in slow cooker on high for 5 hours.

When done cooking shred chicken in sauce.

Serve in flour tortillas with your favorite toppings.

Grilled (or baked!) Island Chicken

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This grilled island chicken recipe is available as part of my Free 14 Day Frugal Living Challenge.  You can sign up using this link and my 15 favorite frugal recipes will be e-mailed to you on Day 3 of the challenge.

Favorite Baked Chicken

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2 lb. chicken breasts

3/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tsp garlic powder

 

Combine all ingredients in freezer bag.

Let all air out of bag.  Seal tight and freeze.

When ready to prepare take it out of freezer and allow to thaw.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Serve with baked potatoes and veggies.

Honey Lime Enchiladas

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1 lb. chicken

6 Tbsp honey

4.5 Tbsp lime juice

1 Tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

10 oz. can green enchilada sauce

flour tortillas

shredded monterey jack cheese

 

Combine chicken, honey, lime juice, chili powder, and garlic powder in freezer bag.

Let all air out of bag.  Seal tight and freeze.

When ready to prepare take it out of freezer and allow to thaw.

Pour chicken and sauce into slow cooker.

Cook on low for 8 hours.

Shred chicken in sauce.

Pour a small amount of green enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 pan.

Fill tortillas with shredded chicken and cheese.  Place in pan.

Pour the rest of the green enchilada sauce over the tortillas.  Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

 

 

 

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20 FREE or FRUGAL Family Christmas Traditions

“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.”

Christmas is just my very very favorite season.  I love the lights, the snow, planning that perfect gift for a loved one, and the joy I feel from everyone around me.  It truly is the most magical time of the year!

December is the perfect month for establishing family traditions.  My hope is that one day my little family will look back on their childhood and remember the sweet memories and traditions we made together.

You do not have to spend a lot of money to make these memories with your family.  A lot of activities can be done completely FREE!  Here are 20 FREE or FRUGAL Family Christmas Traditions!

family traditions

Free or Frugal Family Christmas Traditions

1.  Decorate the Christmas Tree

Each year our family hikes through the forest to cut down our Christmas Tree.  After finding that “perfect” tree we bring it home, turn on some Christmas music and spend a fun evening decorating it together.  Our Christmas tree is decorated with salt dough ornaments, candy canes, and all the things that bring sentimentality and love to my life.  The ornaments made by the hands of my sweet children are ones I will cherish forever!

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2.  Christmas Stories

Every night for the entire month of December we turn off the lights in our house, sit in front of the lit up Christmas tree, and read a Christmas Story.  Short stories can easily be found and printed from the internet, or you can usually find Christmas books at your local thrift store.

3.  Christmas Lights

Take a drive as a family and look at all of the Christmas lights around town.  We have found a few favorite neighborhoods that we enjoy visiting each year.  I always pop popcorn for the kids (and me!) to snack on during the drive and the kids bring a blanket and wear their pajamas.  Of course, we have our favorite holiday music on in the background.  It is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to enjoy the holidays

4.  Holiday Baking

I mean really, does it get any better than holiday baking??  I think NOT!  With hundreds of different recipes and treats to choose from, we could be baking all month long!

Holiday baking is a fun tradition to do with your kids.  My kids love to help in the kitchen, ESPECIALLY if they know treats are involved!  A few of our holiday favorites are gingerbread men, peanut brittle, pretzels dipped in chocolate, and homemade toffee.

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5.  Neighbor Gifts

After all the holiday baking it’s so fun to deliver those yummy goodies to friends and neighbors.  We like to get the kids involved in this.  We package up the plates together, make cute little cards and spend an evening bringing some joy to our little neighborhood.  I love this tradition and the way it brings a community together.

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6.  Advent Calendar

Years ago I made a Christmas Advent calendar.  It was quite a bit of work and honestly, there are so many cheaper and easier options out there.  But, my kids love this calendar.  It’s nothing fancy.  They don’t receive a treat or activity each day, they just put a little felt ornament up on our felt Christmas Tree.  When the tree is full, Christmas is here.  It makes the long wait a little bit easier for the excited kids!

7.  Christmas Movies

Have a Christmas Movie night.  I love snuggling up with my family and enjoying a feel good holiday movie.  We enjoy classics like; It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas; or a newer family favorite is Elf.  Netflix has a lot of great options, or check out a few from your local library.

8.  Christmas Crafts

There are hundreds of darling Christmas Craft ideas all over Pinterest.  I like to do a few of these during the school break with my kids.  You can always find some ideas using items you already have in your house.

9.  Paper Snowflakes

Cut out paper snowflakes and hang them around your house.  You can find many tutorials on YouTube.  These are usually easy enough for younger kids to enjoy.  I will usually fold the paper for my preschool kids and then let them be in charge of cutting out the fun shapes. It’s such a joy to see every snowflake with a different unique design.

 

10.  Christmas Eve Dinner

I like to have a big fancy dinner with my family on Christmas Eve.  When we have our big dinner on Christmas Eve, we are able to just relax and enjoy Christmas day stress free.  We invite over extended family and everyone brings a side dish to share.  When everyone helps contribute to the meal, it keeps the costs low.

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11.  Letters to Santa

My kids like to write letters to Santa Clause every year.  I am personally not a huge fan of the traditional letters to Santa, where the kids ask for all the things they want to be brought to them.  Instead, I have my kids write to tell Santa about all of the good and nice things they have done throughout the year.  I have told them this is how Santa decides if he will bring them a present or not.  My hope is this will encourage them to focus more on being kind and less on materialist things.

12.  Light the World

We have been participating in Light the World for the past few years.  Light the World is a campaign sponsored by my church.  It encourages families to look for ways to serve within their family, community and in the world.  It is absolutely open to EVERYONE!  The focus is less about religion, and more on service.

There are so many different ways to serve and love others.  Bake cookies for your local fire department, participate in Operation Shoe box, volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or become “Secret Santa” for a family in need.  I love having my kids participate in this and have found it really brings the true spirit of Christmas into our home.

13.  Act out the Nativity

Every Christmas Eve, after our special dinner, my kids act out the nativity as an adult reads the story out of Luke 2.  The kids dress up as mary, joseph, donkey etc.  I love this tradition!

14.  Make a Ginger Bread House

Spend an afternoon making a ginger bread house with your family.  You can usually find fairly cheap kits at your local grocery store.  One year we just used graham crackers and homemade frosting.  For decorations we used items already in my pantry, like chocolate chips, marshmallows and almonds.  It really doesn’t matter how fancy of a house you build, all that matters is that you’re spending time with your loved ones.

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15.  Christmas Cookie Exchange

Invite some friends over for an annual Christmas Cookie Exchange.  Ask everyone to bring a dozen cookies and enjoy socializing and taste testing all of the different holiday cookies.  You might even find a new favorite recipe!

16.  Send out a Christmas Email

Ditch the traditional Christmas card and instead send out a Christmas e-mail.  You can include a few pictures and a short update of what your family has been up to over the past year.  I have even seen some free email card services you could look into!

17.  White Elephant Party

Host a White Elephant Party at your home.  Ask everyone to bring a wrapped gift (something they already have around their house).  Play a fun gift exchange game (these can be found on Pinterest) to decide who will open which present.

This is a fun way to exchange gifts with friends, without having to spend a lot of money on everyone.  It also brings a lot of laughs!!

18.  Hot Chocolate Bar

Set up a hot chocolate bar on Christmas Day.  Keep it simple to prevent overspending.  A few peppermint sticks, some marshmallows and whipped cream are all easy ideas.  Search Pinterest for easy homemade hot chocolate mix.

19.  Christmas Concerts/Events

Look to your community for free Christmas Concerts and Events happening around town.  Does your community put on a free nativity, light parade or other special concerts?  You can usually find at least a few Christmas Concerts at the local high school.

20.  Cookies for Santa and Reindeer Food

Set out milk and cookies for Santa Clause on Christmas Eve.  Go one step further and make Reindeer Food.  Mix together oats and glitter for magic reindeer food.  Sprinkle it out in your yard to help the reindeer find your house.

Christmas Traditions

I am always searching for fun new traditions!  What are some of your families favorite holiday traditions???  Let me know in the comments!

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Christmas Gift Ideas for Teen Girls under $25

“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.”

Are you needing a gift, maybe a Christmas present or a birthday present, for the teen girl in your life?  Are you on a budget and don’t want to overspend?

Well you have come to the right place!  I have researched all of the best gifts for teen girls!  The best part?  Everything is under $25, so you can stick to that budget!

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Gifts for Fun

This Karaoke Microphone would be so fun for some teen girl parties or for anyone who loves to sing!  It is compatible with both android and iOS.  It is only $24.99.

 

Adult Coloring Books are so fun and relaxing.  I loved the inspirational sayings in this book.  Every teen (and adult!) needs a good motivational quote every now and then!  this coloring book is a really good deal at $6.22.

What teen girl wouldn’t love a itunes gift card.  This way she can pick and choose what she wants!  You can decide how much money you want on your gift card, with the lowest gift card at $25.

Amazon.com gift card design

Let’s face it, teens love to take pictures!  This Phone Tripod looks so fun for setting up cute group photos or selfies.  It is currently only $13.98!

Accessories

CC Beanies are all the rage right now with teen girls.  These darling CC beanies are only $8.99, with dozens of colors to choose from.

Trendy Warm Chunky Soft Stretch Cable Knit Slouchy Beanie Skully HAT20A, Teal

 

These blanket scarves are so popular right now and would be perfect for the cold months.  This one is less than $15, and there are many other color options to choose from.

Bess Bridal Women's Plaid Blanket Winter Scarf Warm Cozy Tartan Wrap Oversized Shawl Cape (One Size, Camel)

I never thought scrunchies would come back, but they did, and are super popular with the teen crowd right now!  These Scrunchies are darling and only $12.99.

KECUCO 12A Colors Women's Chiffon Flower Hair Scrunchies Hair Bow Chiffon Ponytail Holder,Including 8 Colors Chiffon Flower Hair Scrunchies and 4A Solid Colors Chiffon Hair Ties (STYLE 1)

I’ve seen so many people wearing a bag similar to this Mini Backpack Purse.  They are really cute, and a fun alternative to the traditional purse.  This backpack is only $24.99!

 

Beauty Gifts

This set of bath bombs comes with 6 different scents and colors.  It’s a fun “luxury” gift for your teen.  The entire set is only $12.99

Aprilis Large Bath Bombs Gift Set, Organic and Natural Bath Bomb, Lush Fizzy Spa to Moisturize Dry Skin, Perfect Handmade Birthday Gift Ideas for Women Best Friends, Girlfriend and Kids, 6 x 4.0 oz

This Tabletop Makeup Mirror would be such a fun gift to receive as a teenage girl.  I was excited to see the price was only $22.49!

What teen girl wouldn’t like a makeup kit???  This one includes a little bit of everything; blush, lip gloss, and eye shadow.  It is only $10.35!

SHANY Glamour Girl Makeup Kit - 48 Eyeshadow/4 Blush/6 Lip Glosses

This 20 Piece Makeup Brush Set is a great deal at only $7.99.  You will never want for a makeup brush again!

EmaxDesign 20 Pieces Makeup Brush Set Professional Face Eye Shadow Eyeliner Foundation Blush Lip Makeup Brushes Powder Liquid Cream Cosmetics Blending Brush Tool

I love the colors in this Gel Nails Set.  This kit is the perfect way to get beautiful gel nails, but for only $17.99 it is at a fantastic price.

 

Gellen Gel Nail Polish Set - Nude Gray Series 6 Colors Nail Art Gift Box, Soak Off UV LED Gel Polish Kit 8ml

This Curling Wand has over 7,000 positive reviews and makes the most beautiful curls.  It is currently only $21.73!

Remington Pro 1-1½” Curling Wand with Pearl Ceramic Technology and Digital Controls, CI9538

When you are not wanting to curl your hair, this Hair Straightener is amazing!  My daughter has had this same one for a couple of years, and I love it.  (yes, I might “borrow” it from time to time!  😉 )  It’s very easy to use, and works great!  It is a great deal at $19.99.

Anjou Hair Straightener Brush with Anion Hair Care Electric Ceramic Heating Straightening Brush

I have had an ipsy Subscription off and on for 4ish years now.  It is a fun beauty subscription service where they will send you 5 beauty products and a cute makeup bag every month for only $10!  When you set up the subscription service you will feel out a form detailing what types of beauty products you would prefer, your coloring and more.  This would be a fun gift for a teen girl to receive, even if you only sign up for 2-3 months worth of subscription.  It’s a great way to learn new makeup skills and try out new products.

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Books

I bought this hair styling book for my daughter last Christmas.  She loved it!  It gives easy to follow instructions for fixing hair.  It is currently $12.98

The Fault in our Stars is a story of a sweet teen romance. It has been a best seller for a few years.  The paperback is just $7.59

Keeper of the Lost Cities:  Flashback is the newest (just released in November) of the hit series Keeper of the Lost Cities.  If your daughter is a fan of this series, she would be thrilled to receive this newest book.  It is currently priced at $13.24.

Room Decor

I love this Bluetooth Nightlight.  It has so many functions including night light, speaker, handsfree calling and more.  For only $18.95 it really is a great deal!

SHAVA Night Light Bluetooth Speaker, Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speakers, Touch Control, Color LED Speaker, Bedside Table Light, Speakerphone/TF Card/AUX-in Supported (White), 7

Felt Boards are super trendy right now!  Most teen girls would love having them in their room to be able to make fun and cute sayings.  It is only $20.99!

You can choose any letter you want with the Marquee Letter Sign.  It would make such a fun room accessory!  It is currently only $12.99.

 

Practical Gifts

This Duffel/Sports Bag comes in a dozen different colors.  My daughter has been wanting a bag like this to carry her sports gear to school, it would also be great for a teen that is on the go or traveling.  This bag is $23.99.

I love the rich colors on these Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottles.  They are practical and cute!  These water bottles are currently $15.95.

It’s always fun to change up the look on your cell phone.  These marble Cell Phone Cases are only $8.99, and have a few different designs and colors to choose from.

 

You might be interested in a few of my other gift lists!

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

10 Valentines gifts for him under $10!

10 Valentine Gifts for Her under $10

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

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

“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.”

Tween girls can be hard to shop for!  They are growing out of the little girl toys, but not quite interested in the teen girl life.  My tween daughters have consistently been the hardest to shop for!

I did some research and compilied a list of 25 AMAZING gift ideas for tween girls.  The best part???  They are all under $25!  Yay!

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Gifts for Reading

Keeper of the Lost Cities:  Flashback is the newest (just released in November) of the Keeper of the Lost Cities Series.  This is a really popular series and is currently priced at $13.24.

I absolutely love the concept of Wreck This Journal.  Each page gives different prompts of things you can do to the journal.  It literally gives the kids permission to “wreck” the journal.  It sounds so so fun and only $12.00.

The Tail of Emily Windsnap is such a darling book!  Both of my daughters absolutely loved it; AND it is a series!  That is a huge win for me!  The paperback book is $5.99.

Tween Accessories/Jewelry/etc.

Unicorns are super popular among the tween crowd!  These Unicorn Slippers are so sweet and fun.  The price varies depending on size, but is between $11.99 and $19.99.

Unicorn Animal Fleece Slippers | Indoor Outdoor Home Slippers | Cozy Plush Memory Foam

I never thought scrunchies would come back, but they did, and I am actually not mad about it!  These Scrunchies are darling and only $12.99.

KECUCO 12A Colors Women's Chiffon Flower Hair Scrunchies Hair Bow Chiffon Ponytail Holder,Including 8 Colors Chiffon Flower Hair Scrunchies and 4A Solid Colors Chiffon Hair Ties (STYLE 1)

My daughters go to nail polish is always the Essie brand.  These colors are beautiful and the polish is easy to use.  This set of 4 is $18.00.

essie Spring 2018 Nail Polish Collection, Set of 4

This faux leather jewelry box is a beautiful shade of blue and a perfect beginner jewelry box for a tween girl.  At $15.58 it is a great price!

I adore this dainty initial necklace.  It would make such a special gift!  The necklace is a great price at $14.99.

MignonandMignon Gold Initial Necklace Initial Pendant Necklace Graduation Gift Personalized Necklace (M) - RCIN

Gifts for the Room

Felt Boards are super trendy right now!  This would be so fun in a tween girls room.  It is only $20.99!

You can choose any letter you want with the Marquee Letter Sign.  It would make such a fun room accessory!  It is currently only $12.99.

It’s no secret that teens love emojis.  This emoji pillow is sure to be a hit!  It is currently priced at $7.99.

I always wanted a lava lamp as a young girl.  There is something so relaxing about watching the colors move and change.  This Lava Lamp has really pretty colors are costs $13.34.

It’s so fun for kids to have their own alarm clock, and a great way to teach responsibility.  This Alarm Clock is adorable and only $12.99.

Educational/Craft Gifts

Help your tween feel a little more grown up with an Adult Coloring Book.  I loved the inspirational sayings in this book and it is a really good deal at $6.22.

Now a days, tweens can never have to much slime!  Here is a a fun Glow in the Dark Slime Pack with fun neon colors!  This 12 pack is only $13.99.

How fun does this Lip Balm Kit look?  It is a fun mix of science of pre-teen glam.  The reviews are all really positive and would be a fun activity to do together.  It is priced at $17.51.

MindWare Science Academy (Lip Balm)

American Girl just can do no wrong!  This American Girl Baking Cookbook is darling and looks so fun.  It would be a great way for tween girls to learn to bake.

This American Girl Sketch Book looks so fun for learning how to draw, and being able to use some creativity with fashion design.  It is currently priced at $12.65.

Gel pens are so fun, and this kit has 100 colors including glitter and metallic.  I know my tween would love having all of the many color options!  The kit costs $19.99.

 

It is NEVER to early to teach kids the importance of saving money.  I love this Savings Bank that offers the options of save, spend and share.  It is only $17.99.

Gifts for Fun

This Karaoke Microphone would be so fun for girl parties or for anyone who loves to sing!  It is compatible with both android and iOS and it is only $24.99.

My tween daughter always asks for a Squishy.  They are a great stress relief, and fun for kids who need to keep their hands busy.  This squishy is $6.38, and their are a lot of other cute options.

I always wanted my very own gumball machine as a kid.  This cute Gumball Machine comes with gumballs already stocked and is only $20.99.

My daughters LOVE their roller blades.  They spend more time roller blading than riding their bikes.  I was excited to find these Roller Blades for only $22.49!

This Family Version of Wits and Wagers is so fun for all ages.  It is a huge hit in our family!  I was happy to see it is just under $20 at $19.99.

 

You might also be interested in my other gift guides:

Christmas Gift Ideas for Teen Girls under $25

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

10 Valentines gifts for him under $10!

10 Valentine Gifts for Her under $10

Affiliate · Amazon · Bargain Buys · Birthday · Fabulous DEALS Friday · Family · For the kids · Frugal Life · Gift Ideas · Holidays · Parenting

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

“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.”

My goal for giving gifts is to find good quality gifts that will be loved for years, without spending very much money.  This is not always an easy task, but it is possible!

Today I researched gifts for 5-7 year old boys.  I was able to find 25 fun gifts, all under $25!

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Gifts for Reading

The Monster at the End of This Book is actually one of my favorite children’s books!  It is such a fun, interactive story that brings a laugh with every turn of the page.  It is a GREAT price at $4.44.

The Book With No Pictures is so much fun!  Each page is filled with silly words that “must” be read exactly as shown.  It’s impossible to read it without laughing!  It is worth the $13.99!

My son loves looking through the I Spy books.  With all the detail in every picture, it provides hours of entertainment.  It is a great price at $10.73.

Educational Gifts

I have heard so many positive things about this Snap Circuits set.  It is educational, fun, and has over 5,000 positive reviews.  This is actually the gift I bought my 6 year old.  It is currently priced at $20.99.

This Science Kit can provide hours of fun for you and your son to enjoy together.  It is educational, rewarding, and fun.  It;s currently on sale for $15.42.

I love this educational LEGO craft kit.  It involves building, planning, and experimenting.  It teaches you how to build 10 different moving machines with all pieces needed included.  This is a great toy for helping kids learn, while they are having fun!  It is only $14.89!

This How to Draw book is perfect for a child who is interested in drawing.  The shapes are all easy to draw and understand, making it perfect for a young beginner.  It is just $4.99!

Sport Gifts

Here is a fun Over the Door Basketball Hoop for a fun game of bball in the house.  It is $19.99 and includes a ball.

 

Do you have a soccer lover?  This Soccer Goal Net would be a fun gift to help them practice their newly learned skills and get them outside staying active.  It is currently on sale for just $19.99!

Gifts for Play

Remote control anything is always a sure bet with young boys.  This Remote Control Car is extra special with the flashing lights.  It is on a great sale right now at $24.95.

How fun would these Walkie Talkies be for your sweet boy?  The reviews are all fantastic and they are only $23.99.

Magformers is one of my favorite toys for kids.  It’s a great educational toy for kids to use their imagination and STEM knowledge.  But, at the same time, it’s also fun…..so they don’t even know they are learning!  This is a small beginner set and costs $16.97.

When it comes to boys, you can never go wrong with a LEGO set.  Honestly though, LEGOS are expensive.  I found this LEGO City set a few months ago and really felt like it was an excellent value at $23.99.

How cute is this Kids Tool Set?  My little boy just loves pulling out his toy tools and “helping” dad around the house.  This set costs $19.99.

My son received these Night Vision Goggles for Christmas last year and absolutely LOVED them!  He was so cute playing “spy” with them.  They are only $14.99!

This Nerf Gun has over 4,000 positive reviews and comes with 6 darts.  It could provide hours of fun for any little boy!  It is priced at $12.99.

Drones are so fun, but they can be expensive!  This Mini Drone is a good price and would make such a fun toy!  It is only $23.98!

This Flexible Race Track is a FAVORITE in our house.  The tracks are easy to snap together and fun to change the design over and over.  It is a good price at $24.95!

This Robo Shooter Robot looks so fun!  Not only does it walk and move, it also shoots frisbees!  I was happy to find it on sale for just $24.99.

I love these Boogie Boards.  They are similar to a white board and chalkboard, but easier to erase and so much less mess.  My kids absolutely love them!  We use them on car trips, during church, and for playing at home.  This Boogie Board is $21.97.

The Star Wars craze is back, and not going anywhere anytime soon.  This 2 Pack Light Sabers are perfect for a friendly duel.  You can also attach them together to make a dual saber!  So fun.  This two pack is $23.94.

This is a perfect beginner Transformer for young boys.  It is easy to transform from action figure to vehicle and is sure to be a big hit.  As far as transformers go, this one is an excellent price at $14.99.

Games

Our Family LOVES the game Spot It.  I was really excited to find a Spot It Jr. for our little one.  This game is so easy to learn and play, and so addicting!  It is only $7.99.

Spot It! JR. Animals

Connect 4 is a classic game, and for good reason!  It is fun to play and a great beginner game.  It is only $8.77.

I have heard SO many positive things about the game Exploding Kittens.  It sounds like a huge hit for young kids and I’ve been really wanting to try it out.  It sounds like a huge hit for boys especially.  It is only $19.99.

 

You might also be interested in my other gift guides:

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

Christmas Gift Ideas for Teen Girls under $25

10 Valentine Gifts for Her under $10

10 Valentines gifts for him under $10!

Family · Frugal Life · Money Educatioin · Money Helps

A Financial Tale of Two Sisters

The story you are about to read is true.  The names have been changed to protect those involved. (Note Sarcasm 😉 )

sisters

Once upon a time there were two sisters.  One was named Jane and the other Melissa.

Jane and Melissa were raised by two hardworking, frugal minded parents.  These wonderful parents raised the sisters to understand the importance of saving money,  spending wisely, and budgeting.

Jane and Melissa both began receiving an allowance at age 12.  They were both given the same amount of money and were taught to save at least 10%, tithe 10% and the rest they could spend.

Melissa began babysitting at a young age.  The majority of her weekends and summers were spent babysitting for multiple families.  She was able to earn a good deal of money from this job and she followed her parents counsel by saving and tithing 10% of her income.

As Melissa grew, so did her social life.  She loved to spend her weekends with friends.  She enjoyed using her spending money, and because she had saved and tithed, she felt no guilt in spending the rest.  Melissa and her friends spent the majority of their time together going to movies, eating out at restaurants, and shopping at the mall.

At age 16 Melissa got a job.  This job provided her with part time hours during the school year and full time during the summer.  She was earning more money now, and was diligent about saving money and preparing for her financial future.  Melissa was very proud of her bank account, and proud that she had been able to save faithfully during her teen years.

When she graduated from high school she had $3,000 in her savings account.

Unlike Melissa, Jane didn’t babysit very much during her younger years.  She tried to do extra chores around home and was able to earn some extra money that way.

At age 16 Jane began working at the same store Melissa had worked at.  Jane was also able to earn a steady income with part time hours during the school year and full time during the summer.

Jane worked hard at her high school job and enjoyed earning money.  She was diligent about tithing 10% of her paychecks, but decided to save even more than the 10% her parents had asked of her.  Instead, she saved 70% or more of each paycheck and kept very little for personal spending money.

Her social life grew, as most teens did.  She chose her friends wisely, and found friends who had similar goals and aspirations as she did.  Instead of going to movies and shopping, like Melissa and her friends did, they instead chose to spend time at each other homes and enjoying frugal activities together.

Jane graduated from high school with $16,000 in her banking account.

Two Sisters.  Raised the exact same way.  Given the exact same allowance.  Worked at the exact same job, received the exact same paychecks.  Yet, Jane ended up with four times the amount of money that Melissa had.

The difference?

Jane was much wiser in her spending.  She chose to participate in frugal activities and understood the value in saving as much money as she could.

Melissa on the other hand did the bare minimum.  She didn’t worry much about the future, and figured as long as she was saving a little bit, she would be fine.  Melissa didn’t realize the life she COULD have given herself if she had only practiced a little more self control.  Her vision was not as big as Janes.

The Moral of the Story

All good stories end with a moral, and this one is no different.

The story of Jane and Melissa has taught me many many financial lessons.  However, there is one lesson that sticks out to me more than the others.

Jane and Melissa received the EXACT same paychecks, for the EXACT same number of years.  Their parents taught them the EXACT same money principles in the EXACT same way.  But, Jane chose to save and save and save, while Melissa chose to spend.

This teaches me that our financial situation is not always about how much money we might MAKE….it is more about how much money we SAVE.  The paycheck isn’t the problem, our spending habits is the problem.

It is easy to use a low paycheck as an excuse for not being able to save money….but I believe we could all spend a little wiser and live a little more frugally, if we are willing to make those changes.

I am able to say this, because this is MY story.  I am Melissa.

Family · For the kids · Frugal Life · Homemade · Parenting · Recipes

A Month of After School Snacks

I try to have an after school snack ready for my kids each day when they get home from school each day.  I’m not perfect at this, but I try!

The after school snack is a time for my kids to sit down, refill their bellies, and talk to ME!  😉

I will admit, a big reason I make the after school snack a priority is for selfish reasons.  My goal is that as they eat their snack they will tell me all the highs and lows of their day.  It doesn’t always happen this way, but sometimes I see success.  There have been amazing days when they have sat down and poured their hearts out to me over the snack.  And those days make it all worthwhile!

The after school snack is a slightly chaotic time in our household, but one I have come to cherish and look forward to.

I spent the past month taking a daily picture of our after school snacks.  I am NO “pinterest mom.”   My parenting thrives on simple and cheap.  If you are looking for the healthiest, fanciest snacks…..this is NOT that type of blog.  If you are looking for a few easy snack ideas, keep reading, you might find one here!

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Week 1

Day 1:  Peanut butter cookie, raisins

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Day 2:  Cinnamon sugar tortilla, grapes

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Day 3:  Whole wheat banana chocolate chip muffin, strawberries

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Day 4:  Bagel with cream cheese, strawberries

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Day 5:  Applesauce

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Week 2

Day 1:  Peanut butter cookie, dried apples

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Day 2:  Peanut butter crackers for running errands

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Day 3:  String cheese, orange

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Day 4:  Animal crackers, celery with peanut butter

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Day 5:  Fruit leather and dried apples

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Week 3

Day 1:  Animal crackers, grapes for running errands

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Day 2:  Homemade Graham Crackers, grapes

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Day 3:  Apple slices with peanut butter and chocolate chips (I use this mandoline slicer for the apples)

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Day 4:  Monster Rice Krispie Treats

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Day 5:  Frozen Blueberries

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Week 4

Day 1:  Oil popped popcorn

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Day 2:  Muffin Tin Snack of carrots, animal crackers, cheerios, raisins and string cheese

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Day 3:  Pumpkin muffin and raisins

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Day 4:  String cheese and carrots

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Day 5:  Cheerios and raisins

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It was actually so fun to look back and see all of the different snacks we had over the past month!  I hope that you found them helpful!

What are some of your favorite after school snacks?  Share with me in the comments, I’m always needing new ideas!

Family · Parenting

6 Things I Learned from my 10 Day Social Media Fast

I just finished a 10 Day Social Media Fast.  And it was FANTASTIC!  After I got over my anxiety of just wanting to know what everybody was doing at all times (joking slightly here….), I fell in love with the new focus of my life.  I was finally spending my time focusing on what was right in front of me…..rather than what was on my screen.

The Social Media Challenge originally came from the president of my church, President Russel M. Nelson.  He was speaking to all of the women of the Church of Jesus Christ and issued 4 challenges to us.  One of those challenges was to take a break from social media for 10 days.

I was really excited about this challenge when President Nelson first issued it.  I’m honestly not a huge fan of social media, and sometimes wish for the days before it all came about (anyone old enough to remember AOL Instant Messenger?????  or is that just me????).

My original plan was to take a break from my personal instagram account, and keep using my business Sweet Frugal Life account.  I have been working hard every day trying to grow that account, and I was worried if I took a break from it, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get the momentum back.

But then……I realized that my business account was probably the MOST important account for me to take a break from.  I rarely spend time on my personal account, but my business account takes hours of my daily routine.  I knew I needed to take a break from ALL social media in order to learn the lesson President Nelson wanted me to learn.

This break was so good for me!  I almost didn’t want it to end!  But, it did….and I am using all of the lessons I learned to help keep me focused as I move forward with a new routine.

6 Things I Learned From My Social Media Fast

social media fast

6.  The Addiction is Real

As much as I do NOT want to admit it…..the social media addiction is real and strong.  The first few days of my fast I found myself constantly reaching for my phone.  I really struggled fighting the desire to open my instagram and facebook apps.  I finally just deleted the apps from my phone, and the temptation decreased quickly.  It took a few days to “detox”, but I finally got to the point where I didn’t think about social media as often.

5.  I have TIME!

I couldn’t believe the amount of time I actually had once I quit checking social media regularly.  I read a book, did a few crafts, and enjoyed some of my hobbies I haven’t even thought about for years!  As a busy mom of 3, I often feel like I am running at full speed all day.  It is not uncommon for me to announce I just don’t have any free time……well…without social media I actually had that TIME I had so desperately been missing.

4.  My Memories are for ME

Throughout the 10 days I found myself having the thought, “I should take a picture of this for Instagram;”  which was immediately followed by the thought, “No, I’m not using instagram right now so I don’t need to take a picture.”  After this happening a few times I finally realized how ridiculous I was.  I CAN and SHOULD take pictures of sweet memories….not to post on Instagram….but for ME.

3.  My Family Needs Me

It didn’t take very long for me to realize that I had been missing out on a lot of family time.  I try really hard to not be on social media around my family.  But, I hadn’t been doing as good of a job as I should have.  Once social media was gone from my life, I found my time and connections with my family growing.

2.  Life Goes On

I was so worried about taking a break from my business instagram account would hurt the accounts, but guess what….they continued to grow without me.  I have 90% of my social media posts scheduled weeks in advance.  My accounts kept automatically posting for me….and my business kept growing.  I didn’t HAVE to spend as much time on it as I originally thought I did.  This was an important lesson for me to learn.  I have decided to set some new rules for me and my business accounts.  I will be spending less of my time working on them, and I can do this guilt free because I have seen it will still grow.  Life goes on!

1.  Follow the Prophet

The most important thing I learned from this fast, was that if we follow the Prophet, we will blessed.  The Church of Jesus Christ believes that we have a prophet on the earth today.  This prophet, President Nelson, is inspired in the things he counsels us to do.  I know that I have received blessings, and will continue to do so….all because I put aside my selfish concerns and did what was asked of me.

Have you ever taken a break from social media?  How long of a break did you take….and what were some of the lessons you learned???