Frugal Novice

Great Tax Day Deals!

Tax Day can be stressful, but you know what takes away stress? Awesome freebies & discounts! Go have some noodles for lunch, chicken for dinner, and end your day with a free hydromassage.

Planet Fitness_Tax Day_HydroMassage

Planet Fitness

  • From Saturday, April 15 – Saturday, April 22 consumers can receive a free HydroMassage at any Planet Fitness location. De-stressers need only bring in a coupon available on PlanetFitness.com (starting April 15) before relaxing their cares away.

Noodles & Company_Tax Day

Noodles & Company

  • From Wednesday, April 12 – Tuesday, April 18, those who file their taxes digitally this year can receive $4 off any $10 purchase placed through order.noodles.com using the code “TAXDAY17” at checkout.

Boston Market_Tax Day Special

Boston Market

  • On Tuesday, April 18, any guest who dines in-restaurant can purchase a $10.40 Tax Day Meal Special. Offer includes a Half Chicken Individual Meal with 2 sides, cornbread, a regular fountain beverage and a cookie.

Olay Review – My 28-Day Study Results!

Olay-Featured

This is a compensated post with Olay through Acorn Influence. All opinions in this post are honest and are my own.

Guys. I’m 35. I seriously don’t know how that happened, because it feels like just yesterday that I was 25, but life in my mid-thirties is pretty great, so I’m embracing it!

What I’m not embracing? Wrinkles. I’m all about taking good care of my skin – taking measures to reduce any wrinkles I’ve gotten so far, and using products to help prevent future wrinkles as much as possible.

When I heard about Olay’s SkinAdvisor tool, I jumped all over trying it out. I always love taking quizzes on Facebook to get insight into my personality, and the idea of taking an assessment to get a better feel for my skin needs is right up my alley.

If you’d like to try it out for yourself (which I highly recommend – I loved it), here’s how: On your movile device, visit https://skinadvisor.olay.com.

  • Snap a photo of yourself (without makeup on!) and upload it to the site.
  • Skin Advisor will analyze your color, eye lines, wrinkles, and more – giving you an age estimate. Then it gives you specific product recommendations for your skincare needs for you to purchase at Walmart. SO easy!

Olay-Products

Two of the products recommended for me were the Olay Regenerist Cream Cleanser and the Olay Eyes Pro Retinol Eye Treatment. I love that the products were easy to find at my local Walmart! And I’ll tell you up front – I am not a person who has the patience for a lengthy skin-care regimen. I need something quick and simple if I’m going to stick with it. So I loved that the SkinAdvisor took that into account and recommended products easy to fit into my routine.

Here’s a quick video about my thoughts:

I’ve been really happy with the results. As far as the cream cleanser goes, my skin is clearer after switching to Olay – this is not something I expected at all but as someone who’s struggled her whole life with breakouts it is absolutely awesome. I also feel like my complexion is a little brighter and it makes me look more energized overall.

I like the pro retinol eye treatment, too. The results have been subtle, but noticeable. I wasn’t sure how much of a change there was just looking at my day-to-day photos, but when I saw Day 1 and Day 28 I can definitely see the improvement in my eye area. I’ll be continuing to use this product too and can’t wait to see how much more those fine lines around my eyes are reduced.

Here’s my day 1 photo:

Day1

Here’s day 14 – halfway through the study:

Day14

And here’s my day 28 photo:

Day28

Be sure and check out the SkinAdvisor, and head to Walmart to have access to all the Olay products. You can see product information and read other women’s 28-day study experiences on the 28 Days of Olay page, too!

Getting Fit with Planet Fitness

PlanetFitness-Featured

I received a membership to Planet Fitness to facilitate my path to fitness and my blog posts chronicling my progress.

As a full-time working, blogging, DIY-ing, mom of three kids, life is busy. A good busy, don’t get me wrong – I love my job, my blog, my hobbies, and my family. But busy is busy, and that means it’s hard to fit anything extra into my week.

I’m 35, though, and am still (ahem, 4+ years later) hanging on to some baby weight (can you still call it that 4 years later? I’m going with yes.) I know how important it is to be healthy, and that means I need to make it a priority now. I’m tracking what I eat, but diet is just one aspect of getting healthy. I want to build strength and endurance, too – and that means I need to get active.

Planet Fitness is the perfect place for a mom like me for many reasons. Number one? It’s not intimidating at all. As a non-fitness-buff person it can be a turn-off to go to a gym and feel like you don’t fit in, but Planet Fitness truly is a place for everyone. Their motto is “judgement-free zone” and they’ve really achieved that feeling.

Another reason I love Planet Fitness is the flexibility. It’s open 24 hours a day, so I can go whenever I want – before the kids wake up for the day, or after they’ve gone to bed.

Price is a big factor for me when considering a gym, too, and Planet Fitness has the most affordable pricing structure I’ve ever heard of – just $10/month for the basic plan, or $20/month for the black card (plus a once-a-year $39.99 fee). I’m trying out the black card membership, and guys, the perks really make it worth the extra $10 a month. For one thing, I can bring a guest with me every single time I go work out. Having company makes working out so much more fun, and makes me more likely to actually go. The black card membership also offers access to the hydromassage beds, massage chairs, and even tanning beds.

PlanetFitness-MassageChair

PlanetFitness-HydroMassage

I went and signed up for my membership, and every single employee I encountered seemed happy to be there and happy to help. The staff can really make or break a gym experience, and they really set the tone  that this was going to be a welcoming place to work out.

PlanetFitnessGrid

I went the very next day for my first workout. It was a Saturday morning and it was busy but not overly crowded. I worked out on the elliptical (spoiler alert: it’s really hard to take a photo while using an elliptical – but here I am in all my blurry glory!):

PlanetFitness-Elliptical

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I did 30 minutes, which went by incredibly quickly because I was able to watch TV while I work out. They have TVs tuned to various channels, so I set up near HGTV and was a happy camper while I burned a decent amount of calories and got some good cardio in.

I tried out the machines on a subsequent visit, and also tested out the 30-minute circuit, which is an easy way to get strength training in for a variety of muscle groups. Brian and I even had a date night to Planet Fitness last week and had a lot of fun.

I’ll be posting once a month to let you know my progress – so check back in a couple of weeks for my first update! I’m going Thursday to meet with a (free!) personal trainer so I can get a plan tailored just for me.

Find a Planet Fitness near you – at $10 a month you can’t really justify not working out!

Dressing Up Has Never Been So Fun! Little Adventures Princess Dress Review {& Giveaway!}

LittleAdventures-Featured

We received two princess dresses and some accessories for our review. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. And thanks to Little Adventures for providing the awesome giveaway prize! 

My daughter, E, loves to dress up. My boys dressed up a little here and there – they loved to be superheroes or ninjas – but having a little girl is just a Whole New World (yes, we’ve watched Aladdin recently – why do you ask?). She likes to dress up as characters to coordinate with the movie she’s watching, to play with her friends when they’re over, or just for fun while she plays in her room.

The problem with the frequency of her dressing up is that the clothes get worn out pretty quickly. The seams come undone, the fabric rips – or she might get a stain on the fabric, which is a pain since the clothes don’t always hold up well in the washing machine.

I know I’m not alone in how I feel about dress-up clothes. In 2002, when two moms discovered the lack of clothing-quality dress-ups and princess costumes available for their children, they decided take action. Jenny Harrison, mother of ten, and Heather Granata, mother of five, began their own little adventure by sewing and selling their very own dress-ups at local craft fairs. They made them soft and machine washable! They engineered them for everyday, all-day adventure! The brand Little Adventures was born, and I wish I’d discovered them years ago!

I’m not kidding you when I tell you that these are – by far – the best quality princess dresses we’ve ever had. There are no rough edges and itchy internal seams or fabric. Everything is soft and so well finished. Seriously, it’s such high-quality work that I would think these dresses were out of our price range (spoiler alert: they’re totally reasonably priced – I’ll tell you more about that in a bit).

We requested the Snow White dress and the Cinderella Butterfly dress – and we also received the fullness slip (which is super soft, not scratchy netting like many other dresses have), the soft gold crown, and the Cinderella accessory set.

The attention to detail is just impeccable. The fabrics feel luxurious, but they’re also durable… and washable. This means that these are dresses girls can actually play in.

LittleAdventures_SnowWhite

LittleAdventures_Cinderella

These dresses make it easy for girls to feel like they’re transported into a fairy tale!

Here are some of the details of the Snow White dress:

SnowWhite-Front

SnowWhite-Sleeve

SnowWhite-Skirt-Sequins

SnowWhite-Skirt

SnowWhite-Spinning

And here are some photos of the Cinderella dress and accessories:

Cinderella-Necklace

Cinderella_Headband

Cinderella-Skirt

Cinderella-Skirt-2

Heart-Cinderella

You can easily see that every aspect of the dresses are well-crafted. And these deluxe dresses are just $39.99 each! There are standard versions of the dresses, too, which are also really great and just cost $29.99. That’s seriously not much more at all than dresses you’d find at big-box stores, and the quality of Little Adventures dresses is just above and beyond any other dresses we’ve had.

I’ve got GREAT news for you –  well, two pieces of great news, actually! First of all, for the next 30 days I’m getting to share a code for 15% off all purchases at LittleAdventures.com. Just enter the code lapromo-fn at checkout. Remember, this code is only good through April 20!

And secondly, I’m getting to host a giveaway for a $75 gift code to Little Adventures! If you don’t have girls, don’t worry – Little Adventures has great items for boys, too. Just enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sick Day Survival Kit

Meds-Pfizer-SickDay-Movie

This post has been sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and 20th Century Fox. All thoughts and reviews are my own.

We’ve all been there.

Your son throws up in the middle of the night. Or your daughter starts running a fever.

Sick days.

When my kids are home sick, I want them to be comforted and get plenty of rest to help them fight whatever bug it is they’re dealing with. I like to set them up on the couch (we have a sectional, and the corner spot is the coziest – and most coveted – spot, so I set them up there) with pillows and plenty of blankets. If they’re dealing with a cold, tissues and a trash can are nearby. If they’ve got a stomach bug, I give them a bucket and some clear soda to sip on and help settle their stomach.

It’s also crucial to have a plan for entertainment on sick days. I know that might sound frivolous at first – I mean, they’re sick! They should just lay on the couch quietly and rest, right?

But if you’re a parent, you know all too well the cycle that happens. They’ll start to feel a little better, and then will want to run around the house in their typical crazy fashion. Then they overdo it and feel worse than they did to begin with!

That’s why I like to have an arsenal of movies and shows to keep my kids occupied when they’re sick, so they don’t get restless and try to do more than they should. And hey, laughter is the best medicine, right?

SickDayMovies

We’re still in the midst of cold and flu season (boo!) so it’s a great time to go ahead and put together a sick day survival kit. Here are some suggestions for items to include:

  • Medicine – we keep Children’s Advil® Suspension, Grape, Children’s Robitussin® Cough & Chest Congestion, and Children’s Dimetapp® Cough & Cold on hand.
  • Entertainment – you can find great deals on movies your kids will love, and that will take their mind off of being sick. Our kids’ current fave is Ice Age: Collision Course. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard them laugh SO much at a movie before!
  • Ice pack – keep these in the freezer. If your little one is suffering a fever, wrap an ice pack in a towel for some relief from the heat.
  • Clear soda – keep small cans on hand. This is great for settling stomachs, and a little can is the perfect size so none is wasted.
  • Heating pad – if your child gets the flu, a warm (not too hot!) heating pad can help ease any aches they’re dealing with.

Find these Pfizer Pediatrics medicines at Target to stock your Sick Day Survival Kit (click the links for the Target Cartwheel coupon offers, good through February 20!):

  • Ease those aches and pains, while reducing a child’s fever fast with Children’s Advil®, a great solution for kids as young as 2 and up to 11. Children’s Advil® comes in several great-tasting flavors, including: Sugar-free Dye-free Berry, Bubble Gum, Grape, Blue Raspberry, Fruit and Dye-Free White Grape flavors. There’s also Infants’ Advil® White Grape, which provides unsurpassed fever relief among OTC pain relievers with a syringe for easy dosing for children 6-23 months.
  • Formulated just for kids, Children’s Robitussin® Cough & Chest Congestion for ages 4+) non-drowsy daytime formula helps break up chest congestion.
  • All in a great tasting grape flavor, Children’s Dimetapp® Cold & Cough tackles a child’s most bothersome stuffy and runny noses, all while working to relieve cough, for ages 6+. 

And check out these fun 20th Century Fox DVDs for the perfect entertainment option (again,click the links for the Target Cartwheel coupon offers, good through February 20!):

  • Ice Age Collision Course: Your favorite ICE AGE heroes are back and cooler than ever in this all-new animated adventure that’s mammoth-sized fun for the whole family! Now the entire herd—including Buck, Manny, Ellie, Sid and Diego—must work together on a hilarious journey filled with nonstop action and colorful new characters, in order to survive the global Scrat-tastrophe!
  • The Peanuts Movie: Dream big and laugh along with good ol’ Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the beloved Peanuts gang as you’ve never seen them before — in a brand-new feature film from the imagination of Charles M. Schulz and the creators of Ice Age. Join everyone’s favorite eternal optimist, Charlie Brown, as he embarks on a heroic quest, while his beagle pal Snoopy takes to the skies to pursue his archnemesis, the Red Baron. It’s a hilarious and heartwarming adventure that proves every underdog has his day!
  • The Sandlot: Tom Guiry plays Scotty Smalls, the shy new kid on the block who wants to join the rowdy pickup baseball team that plays every day in the neighborhood sandlot. The summer passes blissfully as Scotty learns to play ball under the wing of Benny Rodriguez (Mike Vitar), the oldest and best player, as well as Ham, Squints, Repeat and the rest of the kid-eccentrics. The skies darken, however, when Benny literally knocks the stuffing out of the team’s only baseball, a sign of impending doom, or worse, bad luck. Wanting to set things right, Scotty returns home and “borrows” his stepfather’s ball, which he promptly uses to hit his first home run, knocking the ball clear out of the sandlot into mean old Mr. Mertle (James Earl Jones)’s junkyard, home to Mertle’s legendary guard dog The Beast.

 

The Perfect DIY Litter Box Solution

Litter-Box-Crate-Featured

We recently added an adorable kitten named Stone to our family. Our oldest son had been begging for a cat for months, and we pulled off a surprise of epic proportions in getting him one for Christmas. Isn’t she adorable?

My one stipulation for allowing us to get a cat was that we had to figure out a solution for the litter box. I hate the smell, and hate litter getting scattered all over the floor. We looked around on Pinterest for inspiration, and then Brian sketched out plans to make our modified ideas a reality – now Stone can use the litter box in our garage!

I thought I’d share our litter box solution in case anyone else is looking for a way to keep the smell and mess of a litter box out of the house, while still having an indoor cat.

Cat-Door

The first step was installing a pet door between our laundry room and garage. We found this pet door that has a telescoping tunnel, so it works really well for going through interior walls. If your wall is thicker than ours, you can also purchase extensions for the tunnel for about $10. We loved this door because it has two flaps and is easy to lock.

Brian installed the door and said it was a fairly easy process. The main thing to consider is being VERY careful cutting through the drywall – you don’t want to cut a pipe or any electrical wires.

Once the door was installed he sealed the seam inside the tunnel with silicone, and ran a bead of silicone around the frame of the door both in the garage and in our laundry room.

E-Checking-Cat-Door

Next we worked on building the litter box crate in the garage. We built a platform with 2×4 legs supporting it.

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Securing-Platform

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We had our quality assurance rep assess the sturdiness:

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Next we built a frame for the walls and ceiling, and built a small door, attaching it with hinges. We weren’t too worried about aesthetics, and we don’t have tools for doing pocket holes, so we just used brackets to piece everything together.

Litter-Box-Crate-Unpainted

Litter-Box-Crate-Unpainted-Top-View

Once the frame was built I did go ahead and paint everything out, using the trim color we have throughout our house. I wanted to make the surfaces wipeable and prevent odor from soaking into the wood. It had the added benefit of camouflaging the brackets a bit!

Litter-Box-Crate-No-Screen

After I finished painting the wood, we stapled screening in. This allows air to flow into the pen, and lets us see if Stone is inside when we go to empty the litter box.

Brian-Cutting-Screen

Brian-Stapling-Screen

Screen-Litter-Box-Crate

Outer-View-Screen-Litter-Box-Crate

We added trim to the top of the pen so there are no sharp edges of the screening that the kids might scrape up against, and then we added a latch and lock to the door.

Litter-Box-Crate-Door

If you don’t have young kids you probably don’t need a lock, but we didn’t want our 4 year old to accidentally open the door and let Stone inadvertently get outside. A combination lock is easy for us to open whenever we need to access the box.

Voila! You’re all set.

Your cat(s) can access the litter box in the garage freely whenever needed, and the mess and smell stays out in your garage.

Litter-Box-Crate-Vertical

 

Gift Ideas for Men

You typically only see gift idea posts around the holidays, but I got to thinking that this year I want to really make smart gift choices for the loved ones in my life. This means I want to both spend efficiently and find unique gifts that really fit the recipients.

I thought it would be helpful to share five gift ideas for men – this could come in handy for birthdays, for Valentine’s Day, for Father’s Day, and of course for Christmas, too!

  1. Fishing Gear – I will fully admit that this is not the first gift I would think of, because I really have no experience with fishing. Brian’s stepdad, though, loves to fish, and he can spend hours looking through gear. You can do a really great themed gift with a tackle box, bait, and other must-haves for fishermen. You can find great deals at Cabelas, for instance, at sites like Retale.
  2. Movie Tickets – I’ve thought about buying my husband a pack of gift cards for the movies before. There are plenty of movies that come out that I just have no interest in seeing (I’ll be honest, 90% of those are sci-fi films), and he has no problem going on his own to see them, or meeting up with a friend. You can create a fun basket with tickets/gift cards, candy, and more.
  3. A subscription to a(n) “_______” of the month club – there are a ton of these out there for virtually every interest and hobby you can think of – or even help him be more stylish with some new duds. Did you know that Stitch Fix now has a men’s option? This is a fun idea because then it’s a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.
  4. A “favorite things” day – Think about what the recipient’s favorite things are. What’s his favorite restaurant? What’s his favorite hobby? Make certificates or an itinerary for the day and do all his favorite things with him. This is a double win because you get quality time together and he gets to do what he loves.
  5. Something from his childhood – this requires a little bit of research, but it can be a really great thing! I knew Brian had really wanted a specific toy from Star Trek when he was a child, so I hunted it down on eBay and surprised him with it for Christmas a couple of years ago. He loved it. And I know first-hand how awesome it is to receive a gift you’ve always wanted, because when we were dating Brian got me an Easy Bake Oven that I’d always wanted. Any gift that you put a lot of thought into will be extra-special.

I hope these ideas help you in your hunt for the perfect gift!

Easy Way to Save Money: Groupon Coupons!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

I do a lot of online shopping. With three kids, it’s definitely the most efficient shopping method – but shopping online also expands what’s available to me, since we live in a city with limited options.

Another reason I love shopping online is that it’s so easy to save money. SO easy, y’all. There are tons of coupons available online and I don’t even have to spend the time looking through newspapers and clipping things out.

Groupon Coupons makes it amazingly easy to find coupons for all sorts of products and services, like internet & TV from AT&T. I saw one coupon for 35% off DIRECTV, and another for up to $300 in reward cards. I love coupons like this, because they can add up to major savings.

I love to shop for kids’ clothes online, too, and Groupon Coupons has all sorts of coupons available for some of my favorite kids’ stores:

GrouponCoupons-Stores

Kohl’s, JCPenney, Carter’s, and Hanna Andersson coupons – all just a click away. As you can see above, some of the coupons are available for use in-store, too. You can search for coupons just at stores near you – there are lots of ways to filter the results so you find coupons that are a perfect fit for you.

If you’re online shopping (or in-store shopping!), shop smart with Groupon Coupons and make the most of your money!

When Sick Gets Real, Pfizer Products Provide Real Relief

PfizerMeds-Featured_2017

This post has been sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. All thoughts and reviews are my own.

There is nothing worse than seeing your child sick. It’s just awful, and as parents of course we would do anything to help them feel better. When sick gets real, parents get proactive.

We have three kids, all of whom go to school and around other kids. This means, of course, that an immeasurable number of germs come into our home each and every day. And when one of our kids gets sick, we’re immediately on guard trying to prevent the other two from coming down with whatever bug we’re dealing with.

Right now strep is making its way around like crazy. So far we’ve managed to avoid it (knock on wood!) but we’ve definitely dealt it in the past. One time our middle son had strep but we really had no clue at first – he didn’t complain at all of a sore throat, but he had a fever and his head was hurting really badly. Thankfully we had children’s Advil to help alleviate the pain while we waited to hear back from the doctor’s office! Children’s Advil is a great solution for kids as young as 2, and up to 11 – so it’s perfect for us to have on hand for all three of our kids. It comes in several flavors, including  Sugar-free Dye-free Berry, Bubble Gum, Grape, Blue Raspberry, Fruit and Dye-Free White Grape. I personally love the color-free options, because my kids almost always drip a little medicine down the front of their shirts!  (Just FYI, moms of infants – there’s also Infants’ Advil White Grape, which provides fever relief with a syringe for easy dosing. This works great for children 6-23 months.

Of course, with it being winter, colds are also running rampant. We’re really thankful for medicines like Children’s Dimetapp and Children’s Robitussin to help relieve our kids’ miserable cold symptoms when they hit! Children’s Robitussin Extended-Release 12 Hour Cough Relief controls and relieves symptoms all day or all night. It’s available in grape or orange flavor, and works well for children ages 4 and up. (Please note, certain Children’s Robitussin products are only suitable for children ages 6 and up so I am always sure to read the box for instructions). Another great option is Children’s Dimetapp Multi-Symptom Cold Relief Dye-Free, which eases your child’s stuffy and runny nose and quiets a bothersome cough. The Children’s Dimetapp comes in a great-tasting grape flavor that’s dye-free, for children ages 6 and up.

*Note, bolded because this is important: Remember to always read and keep the cartons for complete warnings and dosing information on Pfizer Pediatric products and to use as directed.

Find out more information on the Sick Just Got Real site and Facebook page.

 

DIY Detailing Gives You the Feel of a New Car!

love having my car detailed; it gives me the feeling that I’m driving a brand-new vehicle, which is always fun! There’s just something nice about having a pristine-feeling car. No matter what your circumstance, detailing your vehicle is a way to pamper yourself – and your car. If you’re not willing, or able, to shell out the money for someone else to detail your car, don’t worry! Here are some steps to do it yourself and save money.

1.     Buff your paint. A good car wash goes a long way, but use an oscillating buffer with some polish to really make your car gleam. Follow up by waxing your car and you’ll get a great shine to your car’s exterior that will definitely make it feel new!

2.     Use an air compressor. There are lots of nooks and crannies you just can’t reach with a vacuum, so an air compressor can really make a difference in the depth of cleaning you’re able to achieve. Borrow one, rent one, or invest in one – regardless of how you acquire one, you’ll be glad you did. An air compressor loosens dirt from the carpet and seats, making it easier for you to clean.

3.      Remove all mats from your vehicle before vacuuming. Vacuum the interior well (after using the air compressor, of course) and take care of the mats while they’re outside of the car. While the mats are out, go ahead and wash them with a steam cleaner to get them looking great before you put them back in your vehicle.

4.     Use glass cleaner inside and out. You might not really think about cleaning the insides of your windows, but that’s where all the fingerprints are (or, if you’re like us, nose prints from your dogs that ride in the vehicle). Get your windows sparkling by using glass cleaner (a spray or wipes) on the interior and exterior of your windows.

5.     Wipe down all hard surfaces with a cleaner. You’ll remove any grime or dust settled on the car, and then you can finish off the job with something like Armor All to give a little added shine. Wipe your dashboard, of course, but also think about wiping off other hard surface areas you might not typically consider like around the doors where people put their hands, or on area where you clip your seatbelt in.

Keeping Cool During Cold Season

This post has been sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare.

We are in the midst of winter, and I think we all know what that brings. Yes, beautiful snowy vistas (if you don’t live in Texas, that is), but also: cold and flu season.

The symptoms of a cold can range from uncomfortable to pretty debilitating! If you’ve ever tried working through a cold you know how hard it can be to concentrate due to the pain. And of course the flu is even worse, with aches and pain all over.

When your cold and flu symptoms become too much to handle, Advil Cold & Sinus is the number one pharmacist-recommended brand. It combines Advil, of course, which is the number one selling pain reliever, with a powerful nasal decongestant. It provides fast, powerful relief when you need it most. Just ask for it at the pharmacy counter!

You might just be able to stock up on Advil Cold & Sinus, chicken noodle soup and anything else you’ll need to make it through cold season – Pfizer is graciously providing a $25 VISA gift card for me to give away! Just enter via Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

A Kid-Friendly Plan for Keeping Your Car Clean

I have three children, ages 9, 7, and 4. We are on the go quite a bit, and each of my children brings items into the car as we’re out and about. They like to bring toys and books, which is all good and well until we have the equivalent of a toy store in the back of our vehicle!

It doesn’t always happen, but it’s a goal of mine to keep our car presentable; my standard is having it clean enough that we wouldn’t be embarrassed to offer someone a ride. Here are a few ways I’ve learned to manage the mess, even with kids!

1.     Schedule car washes. Taking the car to be washed just wasn’t on my radar, but now it’s something we do at least twice a month. When we get it washed we always follow it up with cleaning out and vacuuming the interior, so this ensures that we have an opportunity for deeper cleaning every couple of weeks. If you’re adverse to spending money on a car wash, you can schedule a weekend day to do it yourself at home – or better yet, make the kids do it! It can be a fun task that they might actually enjoy.

2.     Make smart car food choices. I think most parents will agree it’s pretty unrealistic to suggest a no-eating rule in the car. I have instituted this rule on occasion, and it definitely makes life harder. When we’re running late in the morning, it’s easier to let the kids eat breakfast on the drive to school. I’ve learned that we have to pick the right types of food – granola bars work well; cereal with lots of small pieces does not – and that we need to package food in the right way to help keep crumbs at bay.  When the children do bring cereal, we put it in a larger baggie, filling it only about ¼ of the way. You don’t want leftovers, because those will inevitably be spilled. I prefer to give the kids drinks in cups with lids because juice boxes often get unintentionally squeezed and make a big mess.

3.     Always throw trash away when you get gas. You’re standing around waiting for the gas to pump anyway – why not be productive? This will help keep trash from piling up and seeming like a daunting task to tackle.

4.     Provide a basket for each child in the car.  Go to the dollar store and get each of your children a small basket. Every so often have the kids bring their basket in and purge the car of various toys and items that have made their way into the vehicle over the past week.

5.     Keep baby wipes on hand. These are great for cleaning spills, wiping down the hard surfaces in the car, and cleaning up the kids, too. Quick wipe-ups help prevent stains from setting in and can curtail a sticky mess before it spreads.