Monday, March 16, 2015

A Choose Your Own Adventure Outing

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You've heard of neighborhood pub crawls, right? Well, how about taking your kiddo on a (much kid-friendlier) crawl of their own?

Friday night when David asked Georgia what she wanted to do the next day, of course she said "Get ice cream!" We live within biking distance (walking if you're brave) from both an Old McDonald's (her name for McDonald's) and Dairy Queen. And of course she couldn't decide which she wanted.

It might have been me who yelled "Ice Cream Crawl!" even thought I knew I couldn't go. (I had already committed to a barre class and lunch with my friend Veronika.) The next morning before I left, David had drawn a map and Georgia was already plotting their course. I'm so happy David took pictures so I could follow along their route.


Here she is, ready to ride!


First stop: McDonald's. She had to show some other kids how to get to the cave.


Now it's off to the park to burn off some calories, have a snack, and let her babies get some sun.





To Dairy Queen for a Heath Blizzard - my personal fave - and a re-route.

 




Bahama Bucks just opened last week and I haven't been. It was apparently a really big deal that one opened, so it must be good.

 

They stopped on the way home to fly a kite. I just love this picture!



And this was about 7:30. She was OUT for the rest of the night....even though her calories for the day consisted 100% of sugar and milk.

I'm trying to think of my own crawl for next weekend. Maybe nachos or queso?

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Fave Finds Friday

ABC Mouse App

ABC Mouse is getting a post all of its own soon. We just love it that much. I don't let Georgia have a lot of screen time, but I'm A-OK with letting her play on this more than she should. Without going into too many details, it has little learning activities and games in all subjects, and kids progress through them on their own "learning path". If you have a little age 2-ish through kindergarten, definitely try their 30 day trial.

A Discount Every Time I Visit Starbucks


Someone thought it would be really nice for me to have my very own permanent Starbucks cup ($6), and it is! The first time I brought it with me, the barista told me I get ten cents off every time I use it. It doesn't sound like much, but if you grab a misto as often as I do, it adds up fast!

Naked 2 Palette

I know I'm three years late to the party on this one, but I only recently got interested in eyeshadow. Naked 2 has pretty much every shade I've needed for the past six months. I do a thick line of Half Baked when running out the door in the morning, and there are plenty of shades left over for me to experiment with. I have the Naked Flushed blush/bronzer/highlighter set on its way to me and I have high expectations for it.

Super Cheap Hunter Wellies
I got some bright pink Wellies for Christmas and Santa was lucky enough to get a great deal on them. The elves compared sizing charts and figured out that my size 7.5 foot could wear size 5 in kids. They're half the price of adult sizes! I like them better because they're not as heavy and are a couple inches shorter. They are still really roomy on my calves but if you have wide calves this option might not work for you.

Julep Ali



Even though our weather is nowhere near spring, I've had Ali on my toes for awhile. It makes me think of clouds and the beach, and makes it that much harder to wait for summer!

Linking up with Friday Favorites / Five on Friday / Life in Leggings



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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Easter Dresses Under $50 - For You!

When I woke up to an email from The Limited with a code for 50% off most of their spring dresses, I sent Georgia off with a handful of crayons and a stack of construction paper and told her mama has work to do!

Ever since buying Georgia this beautiful dress to wear on Easter, I've been on the lookout for something coordinating that I can wear, and there were plenty of picks for me.

I bought the first two dresses above, for less than $50 each. In fact, all of my favorites shown above are less than $50 when you use the code ONEDAY. It's good for 50% off all their new spring arrivals.

Most of the dresses I wear to church are from Limited. They are amazing quality for the price (and I always wait for a code to buy) and their fit is very consistent. I also use ShopRunner for free shipping. I think it's a paid service, but I get it for free through our AMEX card. And don't forget to use eBates for 3% back!

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Talk Nauti To Me


Sunny Scarf $10 / Necklace $13 / Bikini Bag $12 / Charm Necklace $15 
Tank $25 / Necklace $13 / Notebook $13 / Hair Ties $5 /
Desk Box $22 / Rope Scarf $10 / Necklace $13 / Hat $20
Hair Ties $5 / Wine Glass $9 / Suede Headband $8 / Orange Top $35

We've already established that I love everything nautical. Give me stripes, blue, rope, coral and anchors with a touch of gold and I'm in heaven.

I popped in Charming Charlie yesterday and hit the jackpot for my spring and summer accessories. I bought the charm necklace because there was only one left, and I'm heading back to make a real haul when my monthly coupon comes in the mail. You can't beat the price of those hair ties unless you make them yourself.

They had so many cute nautical napkins and paper supplies....I might just have to host a little get-together to welcome the warmer weather!


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Thursday, March 5, 2015

How You Need A Budget Works & How To Get Started

Please note this is not our budget. It is a screen shot from the YNAB website.

If someone had told me a year ago that I needed a budget or that setting one up would have helped me, I would have laughed off that idea. In fact, my husband did try to make me analyze our spending every month and I brushed it off. 

We have various savings and investments for retirement, college, emergencies, and all sorts of fun. We don't have non-mortgage debt and we don't spend more than we make. We both feel pretty secure financially and that we don't have much to worry about.

Why in the world would we need a budget? Budgets are for people paying down debt and learning to live within their means, right?

I finally caved, if only to show David how pointless a budget is. But guess what? Now I can go in Target and leave only exactly what I came in for. You don't hear many women say that, do you?

Now that the Target miracle has your attention, I'd like to show you what we use and how it works.

I decided to try You Need A Budget (YNAB for short) because it's very user friendly and you can use it on phones and iPads when you're on the go. Your data is also kept in your Dropbox account and on your desktop/app instead of their system. The only downside is that you manually enter transactions instead of the software pulling them from your bank and credit cards - but that's actually safer in the end, so I don't mind sitting down once a week to do it.

The first step is setting up a budget. I used most of their given categories shown above and entered things like Georgia's ballet/cheer, dog grooming, and things I'd like to save for, like a new living room rug.

After inputting your account balances and income, you simply allocate your money to the different expense categories. YNAB will tell you when you've spent too much imaginary money by having you move it between categories until you are 100% within your income. 

Each time you enter your spending (sometimes I enter our receipts individually, but usually I just do one upload for the whole week) and assign each transaction a category, you can see how much you have left for the month. Easy peasy, right?

There are times ahem when I spend more than I've allocated for my personal spending. That's when I "steal" some from the dogs and just don't have as much to spend on myself next month. YNAB makes you make up for overspending in the future months. 

I also let the "home decor" balance roll forward each month until I have enough for what I want to buy. And when our electricity, grocery, or other category spending is under budget for the month, I either move that to savings or dining or let it roll forward to balance a higher spending month.

How it has helped me
I walk in Target for a couple of things, get distracted by something cute or useful, then have to think - do I want to save for that rug or have an extra dinner out, or do I really need this Nate Berkus picture frame? 

Do we want to grab Chick Fil A for a couple drive through lunches, or would I rather us all go out for Brooklyn Pizza this weekend? Do I want a milkshake or will a little bowl of ice cream at home do?

I'm much more conscious of what I pick up on a whim, which has helped us accumulate much less junk.

When we decided, on a Wednesday, to fly to Colorado that Friday night to celebrate Halloween with friends, we were able to decide, as a family, to do without some other fun stuff and shopping the next month in order to avoid dipping into our vacation savings to cover it. (We found a super bargain on last minute flights, which made that possible.)

The YNAB website has all kinds of video tutorials on using the software as well as getting you started on a budget, if you've never made one. And you can definitely email me if you have a quick question or need a sounding board.

You can try it for free for 30 days to see how you like it, and I bet you will! Use this link to sign up - if you end up buying a YNAB account, you will get $6 off. Your payment is a one time fee, a really good deal.

Do you have any favorite budgeting or spending tips?


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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March Goals

Ahhh - where in the world did February go? We were on the go so much and it flew right by.

I feel like I accomplished a lot, but not much of it was on my list of February goals. Here's a recap of February:

  • Home I somewhat kept up with chores. The house was in tip top shape when we left for Disney. The week we got back, I was room mom for the Valentine's Day party and spent my free time on that and LAUNDRY catch up. Then it was off to Costa Rica. When David's parents got here to stay with Georgia the house was clean. So this can count...right?
  • Clutter I've been getting rid of things, just working on one small area at a time. Several cabinets and drawers have been cleaned out, and all of Georgia's clothes that are too small are now in boxes. I didn't really keep up with tagging the clothes for consignment though.
  • Blogging I think I did pretty well with this. I'm not great at pre-writing and scheduling posts when I travel, but I did pick up my involvement in social media this month.
  • Finances I kept up with our budget this month! We had a couple of unplanned expenses (vet), but I was much better about spending without thinking. I did root touch ups at home and avoided a $300 visit to the salon.
  • Exercise Nope, nope, and nope. I don't even want to talk about this one! A lot of walking in Disney, but nothing intentional. I paid for it when I had to wear a swimsuit in Costa Rica.
  • Eating Finally! A win! I didn't have any Cokes or sweet tea except while on vacation! I did a lot better on eating out, too. Most of the times I ate on the run were planned rather than necessary.
  • Bible I don't know that I fit in three devotions a week, every week, but I have found it easier and easier to want to get up and study my Bible. I also finished my prayer box.
  • Marriage We had a date week in Costa Rica. A lot of communication and relaxing together, which was just what we needed.
  • Social We had playdates outside of the house and several more planned, but the weather didn't allow for it. One thing I loved was getting together with some girlfriends from Sunday School. We really clicked and have plans to make it a regular thing.
  • Writing I didn't do any more articles. The PR contact left the project and I never got in touch with her replacement.
So...I've reassessed everything, and I don't think making specific goals, even though they are small, is working very well for me. I've decided to try just focusing on the areas during the month and tracking my progress rather than being disappointed when I don't meet each specific goal. I think focusing on what I do get done will make me a much happier person than focusing on a goal that may need to change anyway.

You can get little tidbits all month long if you follow me on Facebook!




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Monday, March 2, 2015

Natural At Home Fruit Enzyme Cleansing Facial



I've only had a few spa facials. They tend to leave my skin feeling oily and pores clogged with rich moisturizers. They're a nice treat though, even if expensive, and probably really good for my skin.

I recently read Complexion Perfection by Kate Somerville. She's the celeb facialist who eventually designed a skincare line that includes the famous ExfoliKate, which I've never used. The book was very informative as far as which ingredients we should be looking for in skincare products and different treatments for each individual skin type. She only promoted her products in passing and gave lots of tips for price conscious shoppers and recipes for a few at home skin treatments.

I decided to experiment with a natural fruit enzyme cleansing facial. The enzymes in fruit naturally exfoliate skin by breaking down the outer layer of dead skin, just like microdermabrasion and exfoliating skin creams - they're just not as harsh and they tend to minimize inflammation that sometimes happens with those types of exfoliation.

This facial took maybe about twenty minutes, including gathering the supplies from my kitchen. Afterward, my skin felt tighter and incredibly soft, but I didn't really see the results until the next morning (I did the facial in the late afternoon). My skin looked clean and glowing, and felt very moisturized without feeling clogged or greasy.


Here's what you'll need and do for your own natural fruit facial:
  1. Smash four or five grapes and use the juice, pulp and skin to wash your face. Really scrub so the juice gets into your pores. You can also use mango, papaya or pineapple for this cleansing step.
  2. Spread a thick layer of plain Greek yogurt on your face and wait for it to dry and firm a bit. Yogurt contains lactic acid, which is a natural alpha-hydroxy that includes anti-aging benefits. It's best to use plain flavored organic...but non-organic honey yogurt was all we had in the fridge. I figured if I'm putting the stuff into my body I may as well use it on my skin.
  3. Next, separate an egg and beat the white lightly. Spread this on your face and let it dry completely. Eggs gross me out and I thought about skipping this step, but the nutrients in them really outweigh the ickiness. They preserve moisture in your skin and eliminate free radicals (a big factor in ageing). They can supposedly actually slow down the wrinkling process in your skin. 
  4. As it dries, the egg white will make your skin feel pretty tight. I used a barely damp washcloth to scrub it off - another step that helps exfoliate - then rinsed with cold water. No soap. If you have sensitive skin, you may want rinse off instead of exfoliating again.
  5. Follow with your favorite products. I suggest hyaluronic acid to lock moisture in the skin, vitamin C serum or gel for skin protection and a natural oil such as argan, olive or organic coconut oil to moisturize.
I'm going to try some more facials - and you can see them in process if you're following me on Instagram!


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