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Choosing the Path that’s right for YOU

As the new school year begins, and with it, fall sports, I am sure that like me, all of you parents of school aged children have been inundated with paperwork, forms, and requests for help in so many areas. My biggest piece of advice, that it took me several years to realize, is that you have to look at the big picture of your life and make sure you are choosing the path that’s right for YOU and your family. Sure, you could probably volunteer to do every single thing that’s requested, and do it well, but will you be happy spreading yourself that thin? For some, maybe so. For others, probably not.

There is a level of guilt that I hear many parents discussing when they feel like they have to decline an opportunity to volunteer for something their children are affiliated with. They don’t want to seem like an un-involved or non-caring parent. I used to feel obligated to provide an explanation of WHY I couldn’t do the things people were begging for help with. This year the assistant principle was pleading with me to sign up to be a lunch monitor – a paid position – because it’s a real need in the school they are struggling to fill. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind doing it occasionally, on a volunteer basis, but I just can’t commit 3 hours in the middle of my day, to do this. The second hurdle is that part of it requires being outside monitoring recess for an hour for 2 grades, and I have the whole sun allergy situation and get sun poisoning so easily. The paid position won’t allow you to just do the inside part, and they don’t accept volunteers, so I had to say No. Even thought I felt horrible doing it.

Let help you save this Black Friday! #BlackFridayGiveaway

This is a Fashionista Event and a promotional item was provided to me by Coupons. com. Hosts for this event are Still Blonde after all these Years and ModlyChic. Let help you save this Black Friday!

Hoover VacuumBlack Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, when many stores offer rock bottom prices and deals to get shoppers in their doors. Over the years I’ve been able to score some really great deals at store sales on Black Friday. The best deal I’ve ever scored in a store was on a Hoover Vacuum Cleaner, at Kohls. It was an older model of the WindTunnel, several years ago, normally priced at just under $200. It was on sale for 60% off ($80), I had a coupon to save 30%, ($64), and a “Doorbuster” deal coupon for $20 off any $20+  purchase ($44), and then I had $30 in Kohls cash from a sale a couple of weeks prior to use. When it was all said and done, I got the $200 vacuum for $14! The best deal I ever scored online was a computer, with the specs that I needed for $500 (it was normally $1400+)!Dell Computer

My shopping strategy has always been to plan ahead. I make a list of each recipient, a general idea of what I want to gift them, and then browse the circulars to see if any of those items are on sale, or perhaps come across something they’d enjoy more. Once I have a list of what items I want from each store, I’d check for opening times and specific times that each item would be on sale, so I could plan my trip. I like to know that I need to be at Store A at 5am, Store B at 6am, etc. I go in, go directly to the products I need, get in line to pay, and move on to the next store. If I plan things right, and the crowds aren’t too bad, I could get everything on my list and be home by 9 or 10 in the morning with my shopping for the season complete!Kitchen Aid Mixer

As I get older, I prefer to do more of my shopping online from home in my PJ’s with no crowds to fight, and being able to apply coupon codes for discounts and free shipping to my door is a bonus. I really, really want a Kitchen Aid Mixer this year, and have been browsing the ads for the best price on one, so I can determine if it’s at all possible with our holiday budget this season. I am matching sales prices with coupon codes for discounts and free shipping from, and hope I can find the one I want at a price I can afford 🙂


Black-Friday-GiveawayDon’t miss the opportunity to enter the Black Friday Giveaway (ends 11/28/14), AND they have a CYBER MONDAY Giveaway that will run through 12/7/14. There will be 100 WINNERS – EVERY DAY!!! They are offering a shot a daily instant prizes AND a $10,000 Grand Prizes! You can get . I clicked the graphic above and entered by supplying my email address, and completing the CAPTCHA. Next, I was given a special coupon discount (mine was 40% off at the Disney Store!) and then I was able to click in wheel to SPIN and see if I was an instant winner (I was not, but I’d love for any of you who are to leave a comment sharing with us what you won!!!). .

Black-Friday-ShoppingDid you know that has a magazine, The Good Stuff? The Good Stuff is a great Black Friday sale resource! If you plan to do any shopping, in person or online this weekend, you’ll want to browse the Black Friday articles on The Good Stuff before you plan out your trip! The Good Stuff is chock full of information about shopping trends during Black Friday, and can help you get the most for your holiday shopping dollars this season!

SEA-BAND® MAMA #SeaBandMamaMorningSicknessRelief

Sea Band Mama


Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sea-Band Mama. The opinions and text are all mine.
When I was pregnant with my children, I had different cravings with each child, and morning sickness with all of them! With my oldest two, I had terrible morning sickness, and worked throughout both pregnancies. I had an office where I assisted my customers throughout the day, and I had to keep a stash of the food I craved and the food that helped ease the nausea in my desk, to sneak between clients.

Half of all pregnant women will experience morning sickness, and eating small meals throughout the day does help in most cases. But there are also products available now to help as well. SEA-BAND® MAMA is one of these! SEA-BAND® MAMA offers a concentrated Ginger Lozenge with Folic Acid or an Acupressure Wrist Band to help! These are wonderful because they offer Drug Free Relief, No Side Effects, they are effective, the Wrist Band is reusable and washable. (Bonus: They may be used for travel sickness or chemotherapy induced nausea as well.) I currently take a medication for an Auto Immune Disorder that makes me very ill at least one day each week. I do take Folic Acid supplements, but I still battle nausea. I tried the Acupressure Wrist Band this week, and was ecstatic to see that it really made a difference! On the day I’m normally so ill, I had an important appointment that could not be rescheduled, but I was able to keep it and not get sick while I was there.

Know someone who is expecting or experiencing nausea problems? Be sure they watch the Pregnancy Morning Sickness? Drug Free Ways to Reduce Nausea During Pregnancy Video below:

For more information on SEA-BAND® MAMA Products and to learn more about morning sickness, be sure to visit their website, and “Like” them on Facebook. SEA-BAND® MAMA Products are available to purchase at CVS Pharmacy.

Have you experienced morning sickness or know someone that has? What were some tips and tricks you’ve heard of to overcome the queasy feeling?
For more information about Sea-Band® Mama and to learn more about morning sickness visit 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sea-Band Mama. The opinions and text are all mine.

Take control of your credit report with Credit Karma™

Credit Karma

Take control of your credit report with Credit Karma™

Credit Karma™ Logo

Tracking PixelWhen I was in college, I began working at a bank as a part time teller. Over the years I worked very hard and earned several promotions and advancements, eventually becoming a Bank Officer who handled many responsibilities, including approving loans. The training I went through really came in handy years later when I had my identity stolen and had to deal with a lot of stressful financial issues. While I was working as a loan officer, I took the opportunity to try and help my customers, going above and beyond what the job required. It can be challenging to let someone know they haven’t been approved for a loan they’ve applied for, and while it’s not always a surprise to the applicant, people usually know if they have credit problems unless it’s a stolen identity situation, showing kindness and offering tips on ways to improve or build credit can really go a long way. Once someone has been denied a loan, they are typically entitled to a free credit report. I encouraged my clients to bring that in when they received it, and we’d go over it together. Most people don’t fully understand how different factors affect their credit. I am pleased to be joining with Credit Karma™ in this sponsored post opportunity to explain a few of the basics about credit reports, and to let you know that you no longer have to be denied credit to access your credit report for free. Credit Karma™ offers this service every day! No credit card number required to access the information, and it’s updated weekly. Take control of your credit report with Credit Karma™ today!

Credit Karma™ opened in 2007 and since that time has slowly expanded the services they offer. With over 220 million Americans with a credit profile, they are trying to spread awareness about their FREE program. Sadly over 33% of Americans have never checked their credit report, and of those, approximately 25% have errors on their reports. Credit Karma™ has a mission to be pro-consumer, and to help put you back in control of your credit information. They are affiliated with Transunion, so the report you are shown is from one of the three credit bureaus.

The credit score range is from 300-820. A good score to aim for is about 720. However, 83% of Americans have a score below this number. Having a good score will help you get the best interest rates and best benefits, saving you money, and reducing financial related stress!

Remembering Great Christmas Gifts from the Past #ChosenByKids

This is a sponsored post for Walmart, as part of the Chosen By Kids Campaign. All thoughts and opinions expressed are solely my own.
Best Gift I Received as a Child
When I was little, we used to always ask for one “big” gift, and then several other smaller gifts that we’d like to have. Our parents would then pass along the smaller gift list to other relatives who wanted ideas of what types of things we were interested in. It worked well for us, and I do the same for my children each holiday season. I have a few gifts that I received that were truly memorable. I remember getting my first Barbie doll, and then having an older girl I looked up to pass down her entire collection to me. I literally spent HOURS playing with those Barbie dolls, and the older ones were among my favorite and treasured items.

Another Christmas, I woke up to find my grandparents in the living room. My younger brother had asthma and had suffered an attack in the middle of the night. My parents had to rush him to the emergency room, and my grandparents came to stay with me. When I came into the living room, I was ecstatic to find a beautiful 3 story doll house waiting for me. I also loved the year that the Cabbage Patch Kids came out, in 1982! I can imagine my parents and grandparents hunting through store after store to find me the doll I really, really wanted. I don’t know what happened to the doll, but I DO still have the certificate that came with her. When we moved across the country, I saw it in a box!

As I got older, my gifts were more about clothes and things that teenagers like. I recall the year I got a combination record player and cassette tape player that held TWO tapes so you could record! I also remember the year my brother and I got our first television sets for our bedrooms!

I remember thinking it was so much fun to get up early and hit the sales on Black Friday. My grandmother liked to give us cash for our gifts, and we could go shopping for what we wanted. I’d spend hours scouring the sales at the mall to stretch those dollars as far as possible, and then wrap them and take them to her house at Christmas, and she’d be thrilled to watch me open them and see what goodies I’d found 🙂 Once I was in high school, and started working at the mall, the Black Friday sales took on another feeling. It’s considerably different when you are the salesperson working the sales, haha! I’d still go shopping after I got off work, to see what goodies I could find. Nowadays I prefer to do my Black Friday shopping online from the comfort of my home though 🙂

Be sure to visit Walmart Toyland this holiday season to get great deals on the year’s hottest and most wished for toys! I’m excited to be attending an in-house event at my local Walmart store (some have it on Nov 8, others Nov 15) to see what the hottest toys will be, and to get some ideas from my kids about what they’d like this holiday season.

What is your favorite gift that you’ve ever received for the holidays?

Nature Valley #MyAdventure #GetOUTThere

Nature Valley

This post is brought to you by Nature Valley, with my sincere THANKS! for the generous package they sent me!

Outdoor ActivitiesWe are a very active family,  with all three kids involved in a variety of sports and school activities, so we are on the go 7 days a week! When we do happen to have a spare weekend, or even just a weekend day free of all obligations, we try to spend that time exploring New England. This is a beautiful area, we are fortunate to be within an hour of both mountains, beach, and big city life. We’ve spent time during all seasons of the year in some fun and exciting places. We get tons of snow here in the winter, the spring is gorgeous as everything blooms, there are fun times at the Beach and Boston Harbor in the Summer, and in the fall our State has people flocking here to see the foliage changing colors – it’s phenomenal! Local parks are fun for the kids to play on after school, and I included glimpses of a few of the sports we currently have going on (Football, Golf, Cross Country, Soccer, etc).

Nature Valley

We try and eat a healthy diet, and I pack plenty of snacks and food for meals when we are on the go. We have a cooler on wheels that we keep with us for bottled water, sports drinks, fruits, veggies, lunch meat, and condiments. It has another section for dry goods, we keep additional fruits like bananas, breads, and granola bars there. Since we are often out late at night and have an early start the next day, breakfast bars come in handy. We know that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but don’t always have time to make a hot meal or even a bowl of cereal if we’re running late. Being able to grab a breakfast bar when we need to is perfect for us!

Nature Valley

If you haven’t heard about Erik Weihenmayer, I am pleased to be introducing you to him and his story. Erik is the only blind adventurer to climb the seven highest summits in the world, and his latest expedition is to kayak the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River! He has a partner, Lonnie Bedwell, who is also blind, and will be joining him for the latest expedition. How inspiring is that?! He wants to encourage others to eliminate barriers and live life to its fullest, living a No Barriers Life.

When they set out on their 21 day, 277 mile journey along the Colorado River, they will be supported by an experienced paddling team, but will use all of their inner strength to overcome the challenging barriers they encounter. (My sorority went white water rafting on the Ocoee River in East TN each spring when I was in college. It is no joke! We struggled, even with all of our capacities, I can’t imagine trying to do something so dangerous without my sight!). This duo has been training extensively for several years for this event, learning to use high tech radios and verbal commands from their river guides. They began their trip on Sept 7 at Lees Ferry, and wrap up Sunday Sept 28 at Pearce Ferry. Nature Valley is featuring him in several TV and digital ads “Feel Nature’s Energy” which you can see below, and a link to their Tumblr page which is following this journey.

About Nature Valley

  •      Nature Valley has a long history of commitment to nature, outdoor activities and the national parks.
  •      The brand finds inspiration from the beauty of nature and the way people connect with nature – whether that’s from a fearless adventure like those undertaken by Weihenmayer or an everyday hike.
  •      It’s Nature Valley’s belief that experiencing nature enables people to feel most alive and Weihenmayer is a great demonstration of our belief.

Want to go above and beyond? Take the No Barriers Pledge

  •      As a founding member of No Barriers USA, Weihenmayer advocates for the organization’s mission to empower people with the message, “what’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way.”

·      You can join Nature Valley and Weihenmayer in the goal of encouraging one million people to live a No Barriers Life by visiting today.

Follow along on Nature Valley’s Tumblr, and if you are a Tumblr user, please repost and follow!

How to Prevent Your Teenager from Experimenting with Drugs

Disclosure: This is a sponsored guest post.
How to Prevent Your Teenager from Experimenting with Drugs

How to Prevent Your Teenager from Experimenting with Drugs

There are many different methods that parents, schools, and communities employ to increase efforts for drug prevention among teenagers. One of the most popular programs used in school is D.A.R.E. These methods have proven to show some positive results, but beyond the D.A.R.E. program, there are a number of ways parents can educate their children about the dangers of drugs.

Morningside Recovery Center therapists suggest that parents should take action in the following ways if they feel their children may be experimenting with illegal substances.

Teenagers Should Feel Comfortable Talking to Their Parents

Some teenagers have deep emotional issues and will turn to drugs as a way to escape their feelings. When a parent is able to allow their teenager to feel comfortable talking with them about any subject, there is a much better chance that they will turn to their parents before turning to drugs.

Random Drugs Tests Help Decrease Chances of Drug Use

Even if the parent doesn’t suspect their child of using or abusing drugs, this can be very effective. A teenager is less likely to try drugs when they know they could randomly be tested at any time. This also gives teens a great excuse when they’re being pressured by their friends.

Encourage Them to Join Sports Team or Other Extracurricular Activities, and Show Interest

Studies have shown that teens who keep busy by doing activities they enjoy are far less likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol. Parents should both encourage and show interest in extra-curricular activities to show their full support. While the child gains more self-confidence and self-esteem they will also learn how to become more responsible.

Parents Being Educated About Drugs and Addiction can Help Them Educate Their Children

Education about drugs and potential addiction can be one of the greatest tools in preventing drug experimentation. Although programs like D.A.R.E. attempt to do this, some children’s issues with authoritative figures can make this information often fall on deaf ears. Having a base of personal knowledge about the dangers of drug use can often be much more helpful to a teen when the information comes from someone close to them – especially if addiction runs in their family.


Ultimately, it is up to parents to ensure that their children are not experimenting with drugs. School programs may sometimes be effective, but they are rarely enough. Abstinence begins with a strong emotional foundation, and that is built at home. Following these tips from the team at Morningside Recovery is a good start to raising a happy, healthy child.


Disclosure: BodyArmor sent me a generous box of their products to sample and facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.
Body Armor

All three of my kids are active in sports activities, and I was joking with their dad that he needs to buy me a TAXI sign for my car, because I now spend more time shuttling them around than I do anywhere else! The kids are in 2 different schools, with different start and dismissal times, across town from one another. Morning carpool isn’t too bad, but once the afternoon trip starts around 2, I am on the go with them until about 9 each night, and the weekends are an entirely different level. Often, their dad and I find ourselves in 2 different towns across the state with kids competing in their respective sports AT THE SAME TIME. We both try to make every game for every child, but logistically that isn’t always possible. In fact, there are days that one of them has to ride with a teammate, coach, or friend, because with 3 kids we can get outnumbered and it is logistically impossible to be in three places at the same time.

Body Armor To help us all make the healthiest and wisest choices, we keep coolers in our vehicles filled with healthy snacks, bottles of water, and sports drinks. Hydration is very important, and even though we aren’t in a state that has extreme high temperatures very often, we do get high humidity, which can be taxing on an athletes body, in addition to the typical re-hydration needs that athletes deal with.

Body Armor It’s important to us to ensure that their electrolytes are being properly replenished, but try to avoid artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners whenever possible. The middle child had an allergic reaction after drinking a leading sports drink a couple of years ago, and we are careful to monitor ingredients on food and drink he ingests, to prevent a recurrence.

As you can see from the pictures above, BodyArmor sent us each of their 6 flavors to sample. I took some small disposable cups with us to practice on an extra humid day this week, and during each water break I opened a new flavor and poured some in a cup for each child so we could all sample each flavor. Every single one was a hit! We all especially liked that it didn’t taste as salty as other brands we’ve tried in the past. As I was preparing to write this, I kept trying to decide which flavor was my favorite, and honestly, there were several. I kept changing my mind, thinking: “Strawberry Banana. No! Mixed Berry. Wait! Tropical Punch. But the Orange Mango. Don’t forget that one, it was so good!” (The grape and Fruit Punch were good too, I can’t leave them out!).

Body Armor BODYARMOR has more electrolytes than the leading sports drink, coconut water, and vitamins and contains NO artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. BODYARMOR is also low in sodium and high in potassium. Many of the top professional athletes have chosen BODYARMOR over all other sports drinks, including Andrew Luck, Richard Sherman, Mike Trout and James Harden – and Kobe Bryant is a major investor in the brand. We think that it’s time to educate all athletes – big and little, young and old – that there is a better for you sports drink out there.

For more information on BodyArmor, be sure to visit their website, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

VTech Care Line SN6197 Phone #VTechCareLine

VTech Care Line SN6197 PhoneDisclosure: VTech sent me the VTech Care Line SN6197 Phone to review, but they haven’t reviewed or approved what I wrote below.

While this phone is meant to be a product that we can give to our parents and/or grandparents to help them remain safe and secure, yet independent as they age, it’s also a product that we have begun to use in our own home after I tested it out, and I intend to continue to use it. I’ll share with you the features, and why it’s a phone I’d like for my parents and grandparents to have, then share why it’s a good fit for my immediate family as well.

As you can see from the photo above, this phone features BIG buttons that are easy to use, 4 buttons for quick dial that can be replaced with a photo of the person you are trying to call, a corded base phone, and a large display area. What you can’t see in this particular photo is that there is also a wireless handset that can be placed in another room, and a portable pendant that you can wear for easy calling or answering from anywhere in the home. It also has a feature that will voice announce the Caller ID information so you know who is calling, and you can use the voice amplification feature to raise the volume up to 40 decibels, all with no monthly monitoring fees.

Grandparents Month is in September, and this would make an excellent gift for any grandparents in your life. As we age, most of us encounter a variety of medical issues from time to time. My parents are in their early 60’s, so they don’t necessarily need all of these features just yet, but they do spend time around their property tending to things, and I think particularly the portable pendant would be helpful for them to have. Definitely if they had an emergency it would come in handy, but also if they are gardening, etc and just don’t want to carry around an entire handset.

My grandparents though are in their 80’s, and my grandmother has fallen, as have many of her friends. Fortunately she was ok, and had people nearby to assist her and call for help, but when she is home alone, I do worry that she might not be able to call for help if needed. She is supposed to use a walker to aid her walking, but isn’t a fan of the walker, especially because it’s quite hard to carry anything while using it.

As for my personal use, I don’t speak about my medical issues here often, but I do have some, and it’s a nice security blanket to know that I can call for assistance easily, should it be needed. My hearing is diminished and I love that the volume can be increased more than on my former phone so I can actually hear people on the telephone. I also love the large buttons and easy to use quick dial buttons so my kids can quickly and easily call myself or their dad, if needed. They also speak to their grandparents daily, and now, with the push of one button, they can call anytime they want, without assistance.

If you’d like Specific product information, or Overall CareLine system information on how easy this system makes it to communicate with family, friends, and other loved ones, I encourage you to visit those links for additional information. Be sure to follow VTech at:

VTech CareLine Website
VTech Facebook Page
VTech Twitter Account
VTech Google+ Account
VTech YouTube Account

Top 5 Wedding Dresses Under $200 #LightInTheBoxWedding

This is a Fashionista Event and a promotional item was provided to me by Coupons. com. Hosts for this event are Still Blonde after all these Years and ModlyChic.

Some of my close friends have been  HUGE fans of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo since the show first aired. Every time we talk, one particular friend talks about how much she loves watching the show and following along on Twitter during the broadcast. She finally convinced me to watch and we have a blast watching and texting during the show. On the recent season finale, which aired Aug. 14, Anna Shannon wore a wedding dress she bought from Light in the Box for just $212!

Image Credit: DCL

You can see the video of it HERE.

I’ve heard of Light in the Box before, and have seen photos of celebrities who’ve found dresses there. It inspired me to take a look and see what other wedding dresses I could find for under $200. Weddings can be expensive, so if a bride is able to find the fashionable dress of her dreams at an affordable price, it can help her keep expenses under control, or even allow her to splurge in another area! Don’t forget to check for Light in The Box coupons on to help stretch your budget dollars even further. There are also many other wedding items from Light in the Box available, such as Wedding Party Dresses, Mother of the Bride/Groom Dresses, Flower Girl Dresses, Ring Bearer Suits, Wedding Guest Dresses, and items for the Groom and Groomsmen. I am also excited to share with you two exclusive discount codes that expire on 9/5/14!

  • $12 off $100 with code HoneyBoo12

  • $24 off $200 with code HoneyBoo24

I have to tell you, it was REALLY hard to narrow this list down. There are some gorgeous, affordable dresses available. However, after several hours, I narrowed it down, and here are the Top 5 Wedding Dresses Under $200 that I found at Light in the Box:

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest, and check out my boards on Wedding/Shower Ideas and Wedding Dresses for ideas you might want to pin for someone in your life or share with a friend who might have someone close to them planning their special day!

You can find Light in the Box on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube; and on Facebook, and Twitter.

7 Uses for Paper Towels

This article is sponsored by Viva.

7 Uses for Paper Towels

I have three boys approaching their teens. I only THOUGHT I used a lot of paper towels cleaning up messes when they were little! Now that they are older, they are able to help clean up after themselves, so it’s important that I have quality materials on hand to get the job done. My former beloved brand wasn’t working out well. They were using almost half a roll on a smallish mess. So, we had to experiment to find a new brand that works well for this season of life. I am pleased to say that the Viva Vantage Paper Towel passed with flying colors. The boys only need 1-2 paper towels to clean up a standard mess in our home because the Viva Vantage Paper Towels are so absorbent! It really stretches to help with scrubbing power AND it doesn’t rip or tear while in use.

Viva Collage 1We were shopping last week for a birthday gift, cards, and some basic cleaning essentials, and I found this product at my local Walmart Supercenter.

Viva CollageAs we walked through the cleaning product section and found the paper towels, it was easy to spot the Viva Vantage Paper Towels. They were priced at just $8.97 at my local store for an 8 pack, and had a coupon for $1.00 off the package, making them just $7.97 for an 8 pack. Under $1 per roll is an excellent price!!!

7 Uses for Paper Towels:

  1. Cleaning – This one is obvious, you just spray some cleaner and wipe down surfaces.
  2. Faces – They are great for cleaning up messy faces after meals!
  3. Microwave – Use to cover a dish in the microwave to keep splatters from making a mess.
  4. Keep Herbs Fresh – Store herbs loosely wrapped in a paper towel, placed in a zip top bag in the refrigerator. The paper towels will help absorb excess moisture to keep herbs fresh longer.
  5. Soften Hard Brown Sugar – Place Damp paper towel on top of open container of brown sugar overnight. The next morning it should be soft again!
  6. Protect pans and skillets – Line insides of clean pans or skillets with paper towels before storing in cabinets. They will help absorb any remaining moisture to prevent rusting and keep surfaces from getting scratched by pans you stack on top.
  7. Strain Grease from meat – I place several paper towels inside a bowl, and put my small colander on top. I pour all the meat in my skillet inside the colander and the grease drains through to the paper towels. Lift the colander, shake remaining drips off, and pour meat back into skillet to continue cooking or add seasonings. Let the grease cool (not harden) and then toss the paper towels into the trash. Grease is gone 🙂

How do you use Paper Towels in your home? Have you given the Viva Vantage Paper Towels a try?

Finding the Best Baby Stroller

Out For A Stroll — Finding the Best Baby Stroller

Babies aren’t too concerned about the brand names of their strollers . . . and neither should their parents be!

It may seem like just another thing to check off the list when expecting a new baby, but purchasing a stroller, can be quite a personal process. Rather than simply landing on the most well-known model out there, the one you and your family settle on should be a direct reflection of your particular lifestyle: where you live, how many children you currently have or hope to have, even how athletic you’d like walks with your baby to be!

First of all, do some research and determine a budget. Strollers range in price from comfortably affordable amounts to four-figure ones. Think about your other expenses and pick a price range that isn’t overwhelming. Also think about additions to your purchase: Want to add a cupholder for mom’s coffee runs? Extras can add up, so consider the whole package.

When you’ve got a budget in mind, think about you. Are you a mom-on-the-go, likely to be moving from kindergarten drop-offs on to the shops and then over to the athletic fields for after-school soccer games? Consider a convertible stroller, or “travel system,” which lets you detach an infant car seat from the legs of the stroller. Are you yourself the athlete in the family? There are many choices out there for runners who want to bring their babies on their daily jog. Lots of strollers feature wheels that essentially make them all-terrain vehicles, oftentimes with a lead swivel wheel for maximum maneuverability.

But as ever, most critical is your family’s safety. Look for locking wheels to prevent your stroller from veering out of your control, and practice pushing it around the store to ensure there’s space enough to move without bumping or bruising your legs.

Less common, but perhaps invaluable, are strollers that feature an auto-stop brake. Simply let go of the handle and your stroller comes to a halt. It might just be a must-have for families who’ve built their homes in the hills!

These are just a few simple things to keep in mind while choosing a pushchair for your child. Adhere to them and you can make life easier for yourself.

The Frugal Way Back To School

The Frugal Way Back To School

The Frugal Way Back To School

Exhausted parents across the country may be looking forward to back-to-school day, but it can get pretty expensive, depending on how many kids you need to buy for during this season! Be sure you don’t miss our Back To School Giveaway, to help the winner with some back to school supplies, but don’t worry if you don’t win, there are plenty of other ways you can send the little ones off without breaking the bank.

Tips & Tricks

It’s a rare parent who manages to survive the new term without having to splurge on something the kids simply must have (Frozen, Minecraft, LEGO supplies, etc). All the kids seem to want at least a few if their supplies to be adorned with whatever “Theme” products are popular at the time.  There are some simple ways to save money. Start watching the sales early in the summer. Basic supplies go on sale,  many for under $1, and you can stock up for the year during those sales. Our town has a facebook group for parents in the district where we share information on school supplies sales, and clothing sales at local retailers. One parent noted that she starts budgeting for the next year on the first day of school. She takes the amount she paid out for the current year, adds about $25-50 to the total, and then divides that by the number of pay periods she has until the next school year. She sets her budgeted amount aside each pay period in a savings account. She’ll do a few odd jobs to make a few extra cents, take paid surveys, and try to find ways to earn while you’re enjoying herself, such as by playing the online slots after the kids have gone to bed, though there are easier ways! If the school year is coming up and she finds she needs more to meet her budget, or the amount is higher than she estimated, she’ll have a yard sale or sell some things on Craigslist/Ebay/Local Forum to come up with the extra funds, so she doesn’t have to take funds from another budgeted category. I love this idea, and with three kids of my own, can’t wait to apply this concept myself.


There’s simply no need to buy a whole new wardrobe for the new year, particularly if you’re only doing it because you think everyone else is (they’re not)! Assuming your children haven’t grown several inches during the summer, just add sweatshirts and tights to their warm-weather clothes. If they have shot up, add new items from the clearance sales, where summer clothing will be heavily reduced. There’s just no need to purchase a bulky winter wardrobe at the start of the school year. Kids hit growth spurts, and we can’t predict when they’ll happen! I make sure my kids start the year off with 7-8 solid outfits that can be mixed & matched, and pick up a few other items here and there as they go on sale in larger sizes. When they hit a growth spurt, we’ll have at least a few items on hand, so they don’t go to school in pants that are suddenly a few inches too short.

Tax Holidays & Coupons

Look out for sales tax holidays. Alabama, for example, has an allowance of $100 on clothing and $50 on school supplies from 1st – 3rd August this year. Maryland offers a full week of tax relief on clothing from 10th August; check the link for other state tax holidays. Here in NH, we are fortunate that we don’t have a sales tax. I know that friends in other states have said the stores were PACKED on Sales Tax Holidays in their areas, so prioritize and plan ahead of time.

Some retailers, including Target, offer apps that’ll give you coupons that aren’t available elsewhere. You’ll usually find that the exclusive coupons can be used with existing ones, leading to a double discount. Kmart and Sears also have similar schemes. I LOVE using apps to save money. We share ideas on this in several of my facebook groups, and I have a post planned soon, where I’ll share my favorite money saving apps with you.

Secondhand & Hand-Me-Downs

Don’t neglect thrift shops and secondhand stores. Not everything they sell is worn out, I’ve found brand new clothes with the tags still on at my local Goodwill! You’ll often find at least one or two pieces that are as good as new, and the savings can be seriously helpful. You might also enjoy the environmentally-friendly recycling aspect of it. It’s also worth looking at online consignment stores like for lightly-used clothing.

Finally, don’t forget your network of friends and family members with slightly older kids. How about those cousins with outgrown sports and other clothing? Try starting your own school equipment exchange network by passing on stuff that your children don’t need any more. Remember, that goes for pens, calculators, even computers – not just clothes! It takes a village 🙂

(Image courtesy of Geralt /

10 Dorm Room Essentials with Kleenex #KleenexStyle

This article is sponsored by Kleenex + Walmart
10 Dorm Room Essentials with Kleenex1As the Back To School Rush is approaching and many of us have children returning to school or even going off to college for the first time, it can seem very overwhelming trying to figure out just what is essential and not to be forgotten! I think back on my own dorm room experience fondly, and laugh with my former roommates about our first few days after moving in. Our dorm rooms were set up like mini apartments, and we all figured out quickly that we didn’t know much about cooking, cleaning, or caring for ourselves when we got sick 🙂 Back in those days, computers and internet access was very limited, we weren’t fortunate to have a Walmart Store Locator to help us figure out where the closest store to the University was located! NONE of us were local, nor could we read a map very well, so we spent some time getting to know one another and the local roads while we searched for a store to purchase some necessities!

10 Dorm Room Essentials with Kleenex1Fortunately, Walmart has everything you need to put together the 10 Dorm Room Essentials, and at affordable prices! Here are the essentials I think you need, and I’d love for you to share in the comments, what things you think are important!

  1.  Bedding: You will need sheets, pillows, comforters, and throw type pillows to lounge on while studying.
  2. Shower Kit: Depending on how the bathrooms are set up for your child’s dorm, they will likely need a carry case for their bathroom essentials. Most college dorm bathrooms aren’t large enough to leave things in there, students must carry them back and forth. Don’t forget Soap, Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash, Lotion, Razor, Shaving Cream, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss, Mouthwash.
  3. Socks and Underwear: There will be a time when they run out of clean undergarments. Buy them more than you think they need to help keep that to a minimum 🙂
  4. Laundry Kit: Quarters, Laundry Soap, Woolite, Fabric Softener, Bleach. Kids will have to find machines to use if they live to far from home to bring it for you to wash 🙂 It takes A LOT of quarters! I used Woolite to wash delicates in the bathroom sink, and in a pinch it will come in handy! Bleach for sheets, towels, and undergarments that they may be tempted to use one too many times between washings. It’s college, they get busy and forget to do laundry. It happens.
  5. Sick Kit: Make sure they have plenty of Kleenex! They will likely catch a cold, and need to prevent the spread of germs. Make sure they have plenty of hand washing soap, fever/headache medication, cough syrup, cough drops, vitamins, tummy ailment medication, band aids, neosporin, chapstick, etc. You don’t want them to figure out how “easy” it can be to skip class because of a minor ailment. If they have items on hand, like Kleenex, to help prevent the spread of germs, that can keep it to a minimum. When they do get sick, if they have over the counter medications on hand, hopefully they can catch the issue early and avoid getting really sick.
  6. Healthy Snacks: Kids will have to learn new schedules, time management, etc. It can be challenging. Stock their dorm room with bottled water and healthy non-perishable snacks. They’ll have something handy when they get hungry and need to keep on studying, it’s less expensive  and healthier than running to the snack machine, and if they don’t have to leave their room for a snack, they’re less likely to get sidetracked by social opportunities to distract their studying.
  7. School Supplies: Make sure they have plenty of folders, pens, pencils, chargers for computer/phone, anything specific to their major or area of study. Buy early when they are on sale for a very low price over the summer to save money.
  8. Decor: Bring pictures of friends and family from home, favorite books or movies, things that give the comfort of home. Additionally, they won’t want their room to be bare bones like the picture below. Help them decorate. Kleenex has made a concerted effort to design stylish oval boxes to fit with so many different styles!
  9. Mini-Fridge/Microwave: So they can prepare their own food and store perishables.
  10. Small Lamp: They may want to study when a roommate is sleeping, or just not want the bright overhead light on all the time. A small desk lamp is very helpful to have on desks and nightstands!

10 Dorm Room Essentials with Kleenex1*The Kleenex Expressions Oval Facial Tissue Chevron Designs can be found in the Back to School, Back to College, and/or tissue section of Walmart Supercenters for a LIMITED TIME only, so make sure to pick up enough for the entire semester on your next trip! My local store was out when I stopped by this week, but the manager expects to get more in this week. I ADORE the chevron design and can’t wait to have some in my home too 🙂

UPDATED to add these reader suggested essentials:

  • Shower Shoes or flip flops to protect your feet in community showers!

10 Dorm Room Essentials with Kleenex

JCPenney Optical $30 Kids Eyewear Sale and $30 Gift Card #Giveaway {CLOSED}

I received a JCPenney gift card for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.

One of my children wears glasses, and we are fortunate that we have very good Vision Insurance. However, our insurance only covers one pair of frames every 24 months and one pair of lenses every 12 months. While he is very careful with his glasses, he has broken them before, and even with replacement insurance, they are expensive to replace! We were so thankful we bought 2 pairs at the JCPenney Optical Kids Eyewear Sale last year, as he has a new prescription and needs 2 new pairs!

JCP Kids OfferWith the $29.99 Kids Eyeglass Offer you get:

  • Any Kids Frame up to $120
  • FREE impact & scratch resistant polycarbonate lenses
  • FREE UV Protection
  • FREE eyeglass protection plan for children 16 & under

JCP Sale SignsWe have had limited time to get by our local store due to extended school year and all three kids sports schedules, and the customer service representative had just gone to lunch when we went by yesterday. I left a note for her to call me so we could schedule an appointment for a fitting, and we’ll be going back next week! As you can see from the sign I found just outside the Vision Center, adult frames are on sale too!

JCP Kids Frames 1

They offer a nice selection of frames in a variety of styles for kids in all age groups.

JCP Kids Frames 2My son loves his frames from last year. They are really flexible and hard to break. The lady that works in our local store is so nice and was very patient with him when we stopped in to have them adjusted on several occasions. She remembers his name, and he loves when she greets him by name, he says he feels like a grown up 🙂

JCPenney Optical

This is his picture from last year when we bought 2 frames! Be sure to visit the JCPenney Optical Site to get more details and information, and you can use the Store Locator to find a JCPenney Optical near you!


I received a JCPenney gift card for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.


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