Friday, January 29, 2016

Life: Friday Ramblings

via 


I'm totally, completely in love with...
...our new, electric fireplace!  It's gorgeous, heats up the room, and serves as a TV stand.
Thank you, nanny and papa, for the best new home gift ever!  We love you!

I'm very much obsessed with...
...the new TV show Colony on USA.  It has action, mystery, and lots of juice!
And you all know how much Jax loves the juice!  It also stars the sexy Sawyer from Lost.  Yum!

I'm blessed with...
...a hardworking husband that would stop at nothing to make our baby and myself happy. 
He worked 36 hours straight in a blizzard, shoveled us out, and still joined us for my dad's birthday cake!

I currently feel the need to...
...teach people about social media etiquette.  Recent events have left me horrified.
I've placed one of my closet and dearest people on a social media time out!  Until then, I see a post coming on!  

I'm feeling overwhelmed with...
...all of the extra work at my job.  People have gone and their tasks are all making their way to my desk.
I'm all about being busy and well rounded, but this is getting ridiculous!

I realized I've been missing out on...
...DVR!  It's amazing to record my favorite shows and watch them on my own time.
Why hasn't anyone told me about this?!  Thank you, Verizon, for introducing me to it!

I'm on the hunt for...
...the perfect throw blanket to protect my couch.  We're on number 3 and none seem good enough!
I'm still contemplating using plastic covers or making signs that read "DO NOT SIT".  Hmph!

What are your Friday ramblings?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

List: Ten cheapskate date ideas for quality time with you and your young child.


It's no secret that my husband and I are constantly on the go trying to make a decent income.  We both work long days, my hubby starting at the crack of down and me finishing late into the evening.  I've also started the newest evil of my life:  working from home on days off.

While it is this very mindset that allows us to support our family, it requires sacrifice.  One of the many things we sacrifice is having sincere, genuine family time on a regular basis.  That being said, I try to make Saturday afternoons a fun time for my little mushy and I.  While my husband is continuing to hustle, I feel the need to make these afternoons a little special.


how to spend quality time with your kids on a budget

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own

Ten ideas to spend quality time with your kids.

1.  Have a home karaoke contest.
Line up their favorite dolls as the judges and bust out your karaoke machine.  Let the best man win!  Our favorite karaoke machine is currently this one because it makes you feel famous.  It's amazing how our favorite stuffed Sponge Bob never likes my take on Elsa's Let it Go!

2.  Visit local museums.
 We're fortunate enough to have many local museums that are free of charge and lots of fun for kids!  I'm all for any type of activity that stimulates my babies' brains.  It's all about intellect.  Find a local place that's filled with history and enjoy the quality time with your child as they're learning.
  
3.  Set up a scavenger hunt.
Print out a few pictures and hide them around your home.  Make them lead to a small surprise.  This quality time is fun for both of you and it makes things like a new toothbrush actually exciting!

4.  Bake goodies.
You add the ingredients and your toddler can mix them all together.  Then, you both can eat them!  If you're rocking healthy swaps like me, make something fun and healthy like granola bars.  

Idea:  We have this kid's cookbook that my little girl LOVES, especially when she puts on a "cooking show".  A cooking show is a great way to spend quality time, especially when you get to watch them years later.

5.  Visit your local library for free activities.
They always have fun things going on from reading time, to crafts, all the way to puppet shows.  We love to spend a date at the library when Disney princesses come to visit and read us a story.  Take a peek at their calendar and you'll be surprised with what they have to offer.

6.  Visit a dog park.
You don't need a dog to visit a dog park!  Your toddler will love to run, play, and talk to the puppies.  Our local dog park even has a trail that leads to a beach just for the pooches.  How fun is that?!

7.  Prepare a show.
Make a simple show using toys and household objects as props.  Then perform it on camera!  You'll be surprised to see how much your toddler LOVES to see themselves on video.  

Idea:  My daughter loves to use puppet show theater to put on shows for daddy when he gets home.  Like the cooking show, this quality time with your child will last forever as you replay your favorite memories.
  
8.  Make a homemade soup.
You cut the ingredients, your toddler puts them into the pot, and then you all eat dinner as a family.  Fun and productive sounds like a double win to me!  My mushy even made up a soup song.  

9.  Make a garden.
  This could be a simple herb plant to sit on your windowsill, or a full out, hardcore garden.  My brother and I have such great childhood memories spending quality time like this with our father.

10.  Tell camping stories.
Shut off the lights, turn on a flashlight, huddle together, and make up spooky stories.  

Idea:  For the ultimate date, light up the fire pit and make s'mores as you tell the ghostly tales.  My kid's stories are always the same "Once a upon time, there was a not nice MONKEY..."

What's your child's favorite bonding time?


Monday, January 25, 2016

List: Ten birthday gifts idea for your best girlfriend.

I'd like to wish my best friend, Sis, the happiest of birthdays!!
She's turned the ripe age of 28 on January 24.  We love you and wish you all of the best!  xo

We typically don't exchange birthday gifts.  Instead we enjoy a night out and treat the other to drinks!
This year we're both on a diet and on a budget, so the celebration will be a little low key.
We decided to keep the evening budget and diet friendly!
We will do this by eliminating cake and sticking a candle in a cantaloupe.
Since she's one of my daughter's favorite aunties, we will also give a small gift.
Like I said, birthday gifts are new to me, so it took some brainstorming.  No worries, I'll share!

Ten birthday gifts idea for your best girlfriend.

1.  Casual Pocket Book
Can be bought here.

2.  Costume Jewelry
My girlfriend loves skulls..


Can be bought here.

3.  Bath & Body Works Set
Can be bought here.

4.  Teavana Starter Set


Can be bought here.

5.  Cashmere Scarf

Can be bought here.

6.  Mani-Pedi Gift Set
Can be bought here.

7.  Boot Socks


Can be bought here.

8.  Skinny Bitch:  Everyday Cook Book


Can be bought here.

9.  Photo Collage Frame
Feel free to stick a BFF picture in there when gifting!
Can be bought here.

10.  Time Capsule Kit


Can be bought here.

What are your birthday gift ideas for your best girlfriend?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Life: Happy birthday to my daddy!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE VIKING!!!
Today, January 22nd, my daddy will be turning the ripe age of 52.
Here's to another year filled with love, happiness, and success.  We love you!  Cling!

  
While his birthday is a big deal, this is extra huge because it will be the first celebration in our new home!
While I'm excited for people to see the house, I really don't want nobody to sit on my new couch.  Any ideas?!

 This past year has been filled with lots of change for the Viking.
His business was moved across the street to a more appealing and profitable location.
His favorite daughter got married and moved a little farther away from him.
His favorite grandaughter has grown into a little lady before his eyes.
Not to mention, he got a brand new truck that's his pride and joy!
While we take pride in being his "favorites", we sometimes need to remember we're his "onlys".  lol!

Please join me in wishing the Viking the happiest of birthdays! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

List: Ten ways to sneak more activity into youre life.

There was a time when I was young, single, and only had to worry about me.
These were the days that I was able to rock the gym three to five days a week without upsetting others.
Unfortunately, it's impractical for me to try and go to the gym at this point in my life.
Although my wonderful husbands swears I can, I just don't see how it's possible!

Being fit doesn't have to be parallel to the gym.
The word fit can fall in line with making a conscious effort to be more active.
Using my new full length mirror as motivation, here's to being more active and getting fit!

  Ten ways to sneak more activity into your life.

1.   Walk more daily.
This is one of the easiest ways to be more active and one of the most convenient.
Whether it's making a point to walk around the mall, the block, or your office building, just do it!
I used to walk around my office building during each 15 minute break. It's time for that to come back!

   2.  Have Sunday morning dance parties.
This is a fun way to burn calories and get more activity into your week.
You can use Youtube to teach yourself a new dance and then keep on practicing!
Every Sunday morning my husband blasts the meringue and reggaeton for a family dance off! 

3.  Rock the playground and actually play.
There are way too many parents sitting on the bench at the playground. 
Get up and rock that playground with your child.  You'll have fun, make memories, and be active!
I'm 27 years old and I still love to play me a good game of tag!  Challenge me and it's ON!

4.    After work do a chore that requires movement.
I used to come home from work, cook dinner, and then vegetate on the couch.
To add more activity to my life, I do at least one chore after dinner to help burn off what I just ate.
My floors have been cleaned every night for the past two weeks.  Cleanliness and activity?  Win!

5.    Squeeze in squats throughout the day.
I'm a huge fan of squats so I make sure to squeeze in a minimum of 50 a day.
Since they require nothing other than a few minutes, I pop a few every chance that I get!
I used to promote squats every time you pee, but then I hurt my knee doing squats in heels at work...

6.  Do simple leg lifts in bed.
While watching my wind down TV show in bed, I'll bust a few leg lifts.
You're already in the position and its the perfect way to spend the commercial break!
My husband hates that I do this because it requires moving the covers off of him.  #Sacrifice

7.  Help out with the yard work.
Have you ever raked leaves, weeded, or spruced up the landscaping?  You sweat and get sore!
Luckily for those of us who want to be active AND productive, yard work is a weekly task.
I just won't do it in the cold, unless it's shoveling snow.  Nope, nope, nope. 

8.   Be the life of the party!
Whether it's a work event, a wedding, or just a night out with friends, participate and enjoy!
Challenge yourself to not sit the entire night.  Mix it up with standing convos, dancing, and walking socialization!
 Just don't keep walking to the snack table.  Try and avoid that...

9.  Give your pet some fresh air.
I don't have a pet, but if I did, I would make sure to walk them daily.
It's great for you and even better for them.  Remember, they aren't going to work or having nights out!
Not now, but one day, we will get a puppy and spoil him rotten with love, walks, and attention!

10.  Wash the car by hand.
I haven't done this in years, but I've read somewhere that you burn about 200 calories/HR doing this.
Make it a weekend activity to wash all of your cars with the family.  You're bound to have a blast!
It's time that I get my daughter and myself involved with this.   Why should my hubby have all the fun!? 

What are ten ways you sneak activity into your life?

Monday, January 18, 2016

List: Ten reviews of different store brand items.

See last year's rendition of this series here for more store brand tips and reviews!

******************************

As you all remember from this post, Jax loves to stretch out her dollar.
Especially this time of year.  Broke much after the holidays?  Yes, mam!
One great way to save money is to purchase the store brand twins to your favorite products.
If you do that on top of using coupons, the Target Cartwheel app, and browsing through the weekly circulars, you should be in for a huge pile of savings.  And who doesn't love to save money?

There is just one problem with purchasing store brand products.
Some items are legitimately the same, but others are horribly not.
Luckily for you all, Jax already did some of the experimenting!
Since I have a love affair with Target, let's use their products as the guinea pigs. 

Ten store brand items that either rock or stink.

1.   Toilet Paper
This needs to be a decent swap otherwise your tush might not be a happy camper!

Up & Up Toilet Paper VS. Scott Toilet Paper
Toilet paper can be very complicated.  You want it soft enough to not hurt, sturdy enough that it doesn't leave behind fuzzes, yet delicate enough to not clog your cess pool.  After using both, I must say that I actually PREFER the Target brand.
Jax says this swap is a definite DO!

2.  Ricotta Cheese
I love my ricotta cheese so it just has to be on point!

Market Pantry Part Skin Ricotta VS. Polly-O Part Skim Ricotta
There was absolutely no competition.  The Market Pantry brand was barely even edible.  I also found it to be quite dry for a cheese that's usually very creamy.
Jax says this swap is a definite DO NOT!

3.  Ice Cream
Let me start this by saying that nothing could ever beat Cold Stone or Ben & Jerrys.  Period.

Market Pantry Ice Cream VS. Turkey Hill Ice Cream
Neither are a comparison to my favorite ice cream brands, but both are OK in a pinch.  I'd certainly say that they're pretty equal, even in terms of price.
Jax says this swap is a definite DO!

4.  Tampons
Sorry, boys!  This is an important one, especially when you see the price difference!



Up & Up Tampons VS. Tampax Tampons
I'll avoid going into detail, but they're both easy to apply and get the job done the same!
Jax says this swap is a definite DO!

5.  French Vanilla Creamer
You all know how much I adore my French Vanilla coffee creamer so this one is real serious!

Market Pantry French Vanilla Creamer VS. International Delight French Vanilla Creamer
This is one of the situations where it is just simply not as great as the real thing.  The Market Pantry version was just a tad too sweet
Jax says this swap is a definite DO NOT!

6.   Chicken Broth
I use chicken broth to add flavor to so many things.  This is something I rack up savings on!

Market Pantry Chicken Broth VS. Swanson Chicken Broth
They both left my soups tasty without any over powering taste of sodium.  They also both had an excellent flavor the showed in all of my quick dishes.  Love them both!
Jax says this swap is a definite DO!

7.  Dried Cranberries
I eat these every single day in my salad for lunch.  So yum!


Market Pantry Dried Cranberries VS. Ocean Spray Craisins
The cranberries in the Market Pantry brand were hard and stuck together.  They were so sticky and firm that you couldn't even taste their typical sweet goodness.  Craisins for the win!
Jax says this swap is a definite DO NOT!

8.  Ground Coffee
I love the expensive, fancy coffees but I can't afford that for my everyday life.



Market Pantry 100% Colombian Coffee VS. Folgers 100% Colombian Coffee
The Market Pantry coffee was extra bitter but still weak in taste, if that even makes any sense!  I know that I'm on a budget, but Folgers is definitely worth the extra $2!
Jax says this swap is a definite DO NOT!

9.   Chicken Nuggets
These need to be both parent friendly and kid approved.  My mushy lives on these!

            
Market Pantry Chicken Nuggets VS. Tyson Chicken Nuggets
The Tyson nuggets are made from all white meat while the Market Pantry nuggets have rib meat.  I'm not sure what that means, but I do prefer the dark meat.  Both of these nuggets tasted yummy to me, and my daughter actually prefers the Market Pantry brand.
Jax says this swap is a definite DO!

10.   Raviolis
Ladies and gentlemen, this one shocked the crap out of me!!

Market Pantry Cheese Raviolis VS. Buitoni Cheese Raviolis
If there is anything that I'm the utmost fussiest about it's raviolis!  My grandmother is straight up off the boat Sicilian, so if she taught me anything, it's this.  That being said, believe it or not, it's Market Pantry for the win!!
Jax says this swap is a definite DO!

What products are a store brand DO or DO NOT for you?

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