Frugal Novice

How to Feed a Family of Five for Just $20 at Denny’s!


I’m a Denny’s ambassador, and this post is a part of that compensated partnership. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I guess I should clarify my post headline, because this is just one of several ways you could feed your family of five for just $20 at Denny’s… and if you eat on a Kids Eat Free night, you can make your money go even farther! We went for Sunday lunch, and we told our boys we were giving ourselves a challenge for the meal to make the budget of just $20. They had a blast helping us figure out various ways to spend the $20 (although some of their ideas consisted of just getting 5 Cookies & Cream Mega Sundaes).

Here’s the skinny: we decided to order from the $2 $4 $6 $8 menu because there are a ton of options and you can get a lot of bang for your buck! Here were our options:



Here’s what we got:

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Ready for Back to School with Osh Kosh B’Gosh


I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for OshKosh B’Gosh. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

The days of summer are dwindling down. We have less than a week until school starts, and we’re hanging on to those last few days of relaxation before we fall back into earlier bedtimes, routines, and being on-the-go.

Of course, being someone who likes to be prepared, I’ve been in back-to-school mode for a while now, getting things organized around the house and making sure the kids have everything they’ll need for the new year. My favorite part of back-to-school preparedness has got to be the clothes shopping.

I can still remember the fun of getting a new outfit for the start of the school year, and I love finding new clothes the kids will look great in (and that will hold up to hours of play!). OshKosh B’Gosh is one of my very favorite stores to shop at because I know I can find something great for all three kids (if you don’t remember, we have two boys aged 6 & 8, and a daughter that’s nearly 3). One stop shopping is where it’s at, friends!


I always think of OshKosh for their jeans (these are some of the best jeans for little boys, by the way – the knees hold up better than MANY other brands), but they have so much else to choose from to add some fun style to your kids’ wardrobes.



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Going Above & Beyond for Our Dog with Grain-Free Purina® Beyond®


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PetsLoveBeyond #CollectiveBias

We love our dogs. I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, but we’ve ended up with two incredibly sweet and patient pups who follow us around loyally, dole out tons of kisses, and play with our kids like it’s their job. They also serve as willing pillows for little heads, and are just all around great members of our family.


Sally is our older dog; she’s 4 years old and is just getting out of her hyper puppy phase. We decided it was about time she had her own dedicated bed, and so we came up with a DIY project to pamper her a little: a knotted fleece dog bed.

If you’ve ever made a knotted fleece blanket, the concept is very similar. It’s easy, and there’s no sewing, so kids can get in on this project! I had a friend over and we each made a bed for our dogs.

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WaterWipes are 99.9% Water & Chemical Free – Perfect for Newborns


I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for WaterWipes. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

My sister-in-law is pregnant with her first baby, so although my youngest baby is turning 3 soon my focus has been back on baby products again. I’ve told her all about products we used and loved, and when I learn about new products I think she’ll love, I definitely pass them her way. One of those products is WaterWipes.


When I first had my babies, I could see how it’d be easy to get overwhelmed with how many different things there were to worry about. Childproofing and which baby food to use and oh my word there were chemicals in everything. 

With all of our kids we dealt with diaper rashes – it’s a very common problem for parents to encounter with their children, and I know some kids deal with chronic diaper rash that can sometimes get pretty severe! Our kids’ never got too bad, thankfully, but when they did have diaper rashes I always worried that the chemicals in the wipes we used would irritate their even more sensitive skin. If only I’d had WaterWipes available then!

WaterWipes are a solution for any mom worried about chemicals in baby wipes. They are chemical free baby wipes that contain only two ingredients! They are 99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. I love this, that there are durable, effective wipes available to use on the sensitive skin of newborns. WaterWipes provide a safer, more natural option for babies, and that makes me as a mom feel great.

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Little Remedies for Little Tummies


I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Little Remedies. I received a product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

I’m a mom to three kids now, and have been a mom for almost 8 years. Although I feel like I know what I’m doing now, when our first son was born we were definitely still learning the ropes. J had lots of issues with a gassy tummy, and boy did we ever know it! There was crying. And crying. And more crying (him AND us, haha!).

I din’t know prior to having children just how common gas pain can be for babies, but when they’re little and gulping down food it’s easy for them to take in excess air and end up with gas bubbles. Here are a few tricks that might help you out if you’re having issues with your newborn – or if you’re expecting, bookmark this list for future use!


Bicycling our kids’ legs helped a lot, and thankfully we discovered Little Remedies products. They don’t contain any artificial flavors, artificial colors or alcohol and are created with the very specific needs of children in mind. There are two products in particular from Little Remedies that were real game changers for us, and that really helped relieve our babies’ gas pains:

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Homemade Basil Fettuccine Recipe


Thanks to Bertolli for providing olive oil and ingredients for my recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

We use olive oil all. the. time. We go through bottles of oil at a ridiculous rate. So when I received this beautiful – and giant – bottle of Bertolli olive oil, it was kind of like Christmas in July.



To celebrate their 150th anniversary, Bertolli is hosting a Taste of Tradition Recipe Contest. Chef Fabio Viviani (love him from Top Chef!) and Bertolli Olive Oil are asking foodies across America to submit their favorite family or original recipe, using Bertolli Olive Oil and/or Bertolli Vinegar. The contest is open through the end of this month, and you can enter your recipe at for a chance to win the Grand Prize—a culinary trip to Tuscany, Italy.

I immediately knew what recipe I wanted to enter – our basil fettuccine. Homemade pasta is just the best and olive oil is a great part of that. We make pasta every single Christmas, and I love the idea of entering this recipe into the contest.


I think a lot of people find the idea of homemade pasta overwhelming, but it’s really pretty straightforward. First, mix together your dry ingredients: white flour (2 cups), semolina flour (2 cups), dried basil (1/4 cup), and kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon). Make a well, and slowly add 8 eggs in:


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Sprint LG G4 is a Mom’s Dream SmartPhone: Here’s Why


I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Sprint. I received a Sprint device to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.


I take tons – I mean TONS – of pictures. The advent of the smartphone was a happy day for me, because I love having a camera with me wherever I go. And with the Sprint LG G4, I can have a really amazing camera with me to capture high-quality shots I want. The LG G4 is the first smartphone from Sprint with a total of 24 megapixels of crisp photo clarity – a 16MP rear-facing camera and an 8MP front-facing selfie camera. I can remember a time not long ago when dedicated digital cameras couldn’t provide that quality!

Here are a couple of pics I snapped with my LG G4 – and a couple Brian shot, too, when I gave him the chance to play with it:

Obligatory selfie. The front-facing camera on the G4 takes great pics!

Obligatory selfie. The front-facing camera on the G4 takes great pics!


Lots of wedding magazines. I’m a magazine designer at my day job & have a wedding magazine coming up, so I get to look through wedding magazines for research. Rough part of the job. :)

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Patriotic Gift Ideas for Everyone!

Patriotic Wood Background

We received blankets & necklaces to facilitate photos for this round-up. Affiliate links are used in this post.

With July 4 right around the corner, patriotic gear is all over the place! If you’ve got stars & stripes on the brain, you’ll love these gift ideas – there’s something for everyone, even your furry family member!

For Infants:

Aden + Anais Cotton Muslin Swaddle Blankets, in Twinkle  These blankets were our absolute favorite with E, so I was thrilled to be able to give some to my sister-in-law, who’s pregnant with her first. The print is fun and neutral, perfect for boys or girls alike. The blankets are soft, thin, and stretchy, and are perfect for swaddling.



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Younique 3D Mascara Review


I received the 3D mascara to facilitate my review. I was not compensated monetarily, and all opinions are honest and my own.

I’ve got short, pale eyelashes, and if I’m not wearing mascara, it almost looks from afar like I just don’t have eyelashes at all. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes, but of course until I tried it myself I was a little skeptical. I’ve tried a lot of mascaras over the years, and I wondered if this one was really any different.

The mascara comes in a case and has two tubes – one is a transplanting gel, and one is the actual fibers.




I was nervous that application might be tricky, but it’s really a breeze. I did a thin layer of the transplanting gel, and then right afterward used the fibers; then followed up with another layer of transplanting gel to seal the fibers in. So easy! Then I decided to make the lashes just on the outer edges of my eyes a little longer, so I did a second round of gel, fibers, and gel. Watch this pic and you can see my eyes before, after one round, and after two rounds. I love the effect of the 3D Fiber Lashes!

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Be Ready for Summer Backyard Bashes with Charmin


I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Charmin. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation. All content and thoughts are my own.

The Fourth of July is coming up next week and we’re planning to have a cookout! We’ll grill burgers and hot dogs, slice up a watermelon, and have some friends and family over for a classic summer celebration.

We love entertaining, and summer get-togethers are just the best. We can hang out in the back yard, let the kids run around and play, and enjoy cool treats to beat the heat. Fourth of July parties are always fun  to decorate for, because you can go all out with the red, white, and blue!

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Family Fun at the Thinkery in Austin, Texas


We received passes to the Thinkery to facilitate our review. All opinions are honest and our own! 

We’ve been looking forward to a family getaway ever since school got out. We went on a big vacation last year so we decided to keep it simple with a long weekend road trip this year; the first part of our trip took us to Austin.

We knew we wanted to try something different, and we wanted to look for something that would be a lot of fun for the whole family. We began researching kid-friendly Austin attractions, and when we visited the Thinkery’s website, we read this and knew it was a place we wanted to go:

The Thinkery is Austin’s home for “why” and “how.” A place where science and families play side by side. Where people connect with ideas by doing, making and experiencing. It’s a foundry for a new generation of innovators and creative problem solvers. And it’s a heck of a good time.

When you walk in the doors, you instantly get a vibe for how your experience will be. It’s not a quiet, sterile place. It’s vibrant, colorful, and full of happy noise. This chalkboard in the front part of the museum gave us an idea of all that was going on that day:


We decided to start out upstairs and work our way back down; the water room was our first stop. First of all, loved that they provide aprons and Crocs for kids and parents to wear, so you’re not wet the rest of the day! The water room was so fun for all three kids.


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Discover Boating for Family Summer Fun!

Kids having a blast on a boat!


Summer is here, and in Texas we’ve been getting record rainfall. That means lakes are at a great level and people are just itching to get out on the water with their families for some fun summer memories!

I have great memories associated with boating; I can vividly remember going up to visit family and going out on Lake Michigan. Everything seemed so serene, and the cool water breeze on our faces was perfect. I also remember going out to Lake Granbury in Granbury, Texas (go figure, right?) with friends and trying tubing for the first time. SO much fun! Brian has great boating memories, too – many of his include fishing, which is something I’ve actually not tried yet!

As our kids get older and we think about things we want to do with them, I know boating will be a part of our activities. There are just so many ways to have fun out on the water, and we want them to get to experience that! I think it would be a lot of fun to take a picnic out with us, do some fishing and just relax. I know some lakes have fireworks for the Fourth of July – how fun would that be, to watch fireworks from a boat?

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