Frugal Novice

#SavorSimple Moments with Your Furry Friends


This post is part of a compensated campaign with Purina, who is also providing the prizes for giveaway. All opinions are honest and are my own. 

First of all, if you haven’t already entered my giveaway for your chance to win one of THREE Waggin’ Train prize packs, go do that real quick. Then come back here and finish this post.

Now, back to business.

We are busy. Not as busy as some families, but busier than I’d like a lot of times. We’re on the go many evenings during the week, and sometimes we don’t get to spend as much time with our dogs Sally and Ninja as we’d like to.

Thankfully, it’s easy to tell that what makes them happy is being with us, so even if Brian and I are working on design freelance, or we’re watching a show together to decompress after a busy week, the dogs can be right there (and I mean rightthere) with us. Ninja really just wants to spread out on the cool floor with us near him, and he’s happy as can be!


I also love it when Sally hops up in bed with us – she circles around a few times before she settles into her spot, and if one of the kids is in the room she’ll inevitably be laid on (which she actually adores, because she’s such a sweet dog).

Continue Reading…

Purina’s Waggin’ Train Dog Treats are a Hit! {Giveaway}


This post is part of a compensated campaign with Purina, who is also providing the prizes for giveaway. All opinions are honest and are my own. 

If you saw some of my posts last week, you know that our dogs are a big part of our family; we had fun celebrating them for National Dog Week, but that doesn’t have to end just because the week is over! We want to keep letting our dogs know we love them with plenty of attention, plenty of petting, plenty of play, and plenty of treats!

If you don’t remember, we have two pups in our family:

Sally is 4, and is an 80-pound labrador/golden retriever mix. She is a mouth breather, so you always know when she’s nearby… and she loves to be near us so we almost always hear her panting. :) She is incredibly sweet and she thinks she’s a lap dog.


Ninja just turned 1 in April, and he’s a yorkie/schnauzer mix. He is only about 12 pounds, and I’m betting 2 pounds of that is fur – he’s our little mop! He also likes to be right where we are all the time, unless he’s wrestling with Sally (because while she thinks she’s a lap dog, he clearly thinks he’s an 80-pound lab).


While our dogs couldn’t look any more different from one another, they’re the best of friends (I guess opposites attract?) and they play together all the time. It really is as if he’s the little brother who thinks his big sister is so cool and so he wants to be around her all the time. But since he’s the little brother, he has to also bug her and beg her to play with him.


One thing the dogs definitely have in common is their love of the Purina Waggin’ Train Chicken Jerky treats. I pulled out the chicken jerky curls for them to try the other day, and Sally practically climbed up on to the dining table (which she doesn’t even do for PEANUT BUTTER, friends – that’s saying something!).

Continue Reading…

How To: DIY Oil Change With Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic Oil


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

There are lots of lessons that parents want to pass along to their kids – one of those life skills is changing your own oil. It’s something I’ve got to admit I didn’t know how to do until recently, when Brian taught our oldest son and I tagged along to watch – and to take pictures, so I could share a how-to with you, too!

First, you’ve got to make sure you’re equipped with all the necessary tools. As you might guess, oil is pretty key to have. We headed to AutoZone and picked up some Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic Oil.  We decided to give this oil a try because we’d heard geat things about the complete protection it provides. No other leading motor oil provides better protection from friction, and we wanted to use  high-quality oil that has been specially designed to give our engine complete protection.




Continue Reading…

Denny’s Makes a Difference #DennysNKH


This post is part of my compensated ambassadorship with Denny’s. All opinions in this post are honest and are my own. 

Just $10 to No Kid Hungry can provide up to 100 meals for kids who need them. 

As you all know by now, I’m a Denny’s ambassador. It’s been a lot of fun learning about all Denny’s has going on – I’ve even visited their test kitchen in South Carolina to see all the work and planning that goes into every single part of the Denny’s experience (spoiler alert: it’s impressive). It was there, over a year ago, that I first learned about Denny’s partnership with No Kid Hungry, which still continues to this day.

No Kid Hungry is a charity that helps make sure children don’t go without a very basic need: food. It’s a cause that’s near and dear to my heart – the thought of kids having to function throughout their day with empty bellies is sickening. I get shaky if I skip lunch one day, and I’m a grown adult. I know my children definitely give off signs of hunger, and that’s just from having a later dinner one night. I can’t imagine them going without food, and No Kid Hungry aims to end that problem for kids around the country. Check out these facts on what a difference breakfast makes for kids:


I get the opportunity to help raise money for No Kid Hungry through the Denny’s campaign, and I got to host a fundraiser dinner this past week to help inform friends and family about this great partnership – I thought I’d share a few photos about our event and then I’ll share how you can make a difference (fun fact: did you know that if you donate $1 you can provide up to TEN meals for children? That’s some major change you can make with minimal cost to you, friends!).



Anthony, the GM at our location, was amazing in helping coordinate the event. He set us up in a private room, and as their contribution to the fundraiser he even donated drinks for the event. That is going above and beyond, but it’s not surprising to me given our experience with our location. They’re a great team of people who care.


Continue Reading…

Tagamoto Road Sets Bring Hours of Hot-Rodding Fun!


We received some Tagamoto sets to try out for this review. We weren’t compensated monetarily, and all opinions are honest and our own.

Holiday Gift Guide 2015

It’s never too early to start thinking about what to get your friends & family for Christmas; I personally like to spread shopping out over several months so it’s not a huge hit to our December budget! So, yes, it’s September (October’s just around the corner, though, folks!) but here’s the first of my Hoilday Gift Guide items for 2015 – a fun toy for the kids in your life.

Our boys love playing with cars. I think it’s a pretty timeless favorite for kids everywhere – I can remember my little brother lining cars up for hours and imagining all sorts of scenarios for their various races and situations.

When I first saw Tagamoto road sets at our local Target I thought immediately it was something the boys would have a blast with. Tagamoto is made by the same company who created HexBugs, and those electronic critters were quite popular around our house for a while!

I love that the Tagamoto tracks are very customizable. You get a set of tracks that comes in various types of segments – straight paths, U-turns, curves, etc. and you’re able to assemble it exactly how you like. There are even little dead-end blocks you can put up.


The boys spent a good amount of time figuring out the configuration they wanted for the track. It was fun watching them problem-solve as they figured out the best way to use the most amount of pieces. And we had several sets, so they were able to put together a pretty massive track that spanned most of the length of our dining table.


Continue Reading…

#NationalDogWeek Giveaway! #FriendsWithBeneful


This post is part of a compensated campaign with Purina. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I’m sure y’all have seen my other posts this week sharing a little about our dogs Sally & Ninja. National Dog Week is a great time for us to really appreciate how much they add to our family, and how much we love them!


Beneful is celebrating, too, and they sent us a really fun bag of goodies for the dogs. In addition to celebrating National Dog Week this year, the Beneful Dream Dog Park Project is supporting a wide variety of different dog park projects across the U.S. and help further the Beneful team’s mission of celebrating the joyful life dogs and owners share together. Beneful is supporting dog park projects large and small, and lending a paw to help make dog park dreams come true through a mix of financial support, hands-on volunteerism and dog park expertise. We have a dog park in our city, and it gets used SO much. I think it’s a great feature every city should have, and I love that Beneful is helping support the creation of more dog parks.

Continue Reading…

Eat, Play, & {Puppy} Love: National Dog Week


This post is part of a compensated campaign with Purina. All opinions are honest and are my own.


You love your dog, don’t you? I know we sure love ours! Since it’s National Dog Week I’m especially thinking about how thankful I am for Sally & Ninja. They’re a part of our family and they are completely loyal and loving to us. And you know what? It’s incredibly easy to make your pups happy and thank them for all the love they give.


Continue Reading…

It’s National Dog Week!


This post is part of a compensated campaign with Purina. All opinions are honest and are my own.

We, just like many of you, think of our dogs as part of our family.


Sally, our 80-pound lab/golden retriever mix, is 4 years old. She is gentle and sweet, and loves to put her paw in one of our hands to have us hold it.


Ninja is about 12 pounds, and he’s a schnauzer/yorkie mix. He just turned 1 in April and he is still full of puppy energy. He’s finally turned a corner with his chewing habit and he follows us everywhere.

Continue Reading…

Sam’s Club Baby Days + a Giveaway!


This post is sponsored by Acorn & Procter and Gamble. All opinions are honest and my own.

My sister-in-law Lauren (might as well be sister) is pregnant with her first baby, and I am almost as excited for her as I was for my own pregnancies. I can’t wait to see her be a mom (she’ll be amazing) and I’m ready to hold my niece or nephew!

Lauren’s due in November, so as that time gets closer and closer, being stocked up on baby gear is more and more on her mind. I started thinking about what all I was glad to have on hand when each of my kids were babies, and wanted to help get her and my brother-in-law all set for their new arrival. I headed over to our local Sam’s Club, because I knew it’d be a great one-stop location to find all sorts of must-haves for babies at cost-efficient prices.

First of all: diapers and wipes. Parents, you know how rapidly you use these, so it’s crucial to have a sizeable stockpile! Sam’s has huge boxes, so I grabbed some Pampers Swaddlers and Sensitive Wipes for Lauren to have ready when she comes home from the hospital.



And if you noticed, I got instant savings on the diapers, making them an even better deal than they already were. And I got 808 wipes for less than $20. Gotta love bargains like that!

Continue Reading…

Data Done Right for Our Family With Virgin Mobile

 I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Virgin Mobile USA which is one of Sprint’s prepaid brands. I received two Virgin Mobile smartphones to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Our boys love screen time. If they had their way, they’d probably play video games every waking hour. We limit the amount of time they’re allowed to play, and it can be hard for them to share or take turns. If you have more than one child, you’ve probably experienced this very same issue.


Virgin Mobile is a parent’s dream – they have Data Done Right Single Line and Multi-line Data Sharing plans, which are available exclusively at Walmart. It’s incredibly easy for family to share data, and we can split up the time between the boys with minimal bickering.


And since these phones aren’t contract plans, but are pre-paid cards, we know we don’t have to worry about them going oveboard and costing us an arm and a leg. These plans make us really aware of how much time each person is spending on the phone, and we can make sure we don’t have a data hog in the family!

Continue Reading…

Online Shopping: What Not to Miss

Woman shopping using laptop at home.close-up

Whether you shop for yourself or your kids, online shopping can be pretty tricky. You can easily miss some little and simply ruin the whole e-shopping experience – and nobody wants that! In order to help you out not to miss the most important parts of shopping at e-stores, here are a few main things you should look for and use. With these tips, soon you will become a real pro at online shopping – and you can even help others get the best deals on the internet!

Out of Season Sales

The first thing you need to learn about shopping online is that here most of the prices are already a lot cheaper than in retail stores. And the best part is that you can save a lot of money during out of season sales. Many e-retailers will drastically cut prices on seasonal products during certain times of the year. This can be exactly the best time to shop for everything you need and get it at an unbeatable price. Some examples include buying ski apparel in summer and shorts in the winter. Shopping for items to save for next year can provide great bargains and save you tons of money. You definitely don’t want to miss out of season sales.

Continue Reading…