December – 2015 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

December 2015

Mini Chef Mondays – 2015 Posts in Review

Wow, y’all. 2016 is almost here. I can honestly say 2015 has been the fastest year yet for me – it truly flew by! I’m really thankful to have joined up with other great bloggers for Mini Chef Mondays, and to celebrate the end of the year we’re sharing our MCM posts so far. Check back next Monday for more new recipes!


Fun (Free!) Nintendo Family Activities for the Holidays

We are so glad the holidays are upon us in our house. We’re enjoying time at home together, baking cookies, and playing games. My two boys, ages 6 & 8, are getting in some Wii U time, too, so they’re happy campers!

I wanted some fun things to do as a family while we’re home, and found some great activities on Nintendo’s site that I thought I’d share with you in case your kiddos would enjoy these as much as mine have!

Check out these awesome free printable ornaments – I’m just showing you two, but there are more! Each of these is available for free download from the Nintendo activities page:

Splatoon_Ornament

 

This Splatoon ornament is sooooo perfect for us this year because it’s a game that was high up on our kids’ wish list (and, since my kids don’t read my blog, I can tell you that my 8-year-old will be getting it along with some Splatoon amiibos. Yes, he will think we’re the best parents ever)!

Mario_ornament

Mario ornaments just make sense to go on our tree. We actually have some that we purchased, but the kids thought it was awesome to make one to include. Our kids love Mario Kart and Super Mario Maker,  our family plays Mario Party together on a very regular basis, and our whole family loves pretty much every Mario game (Super Mario World was my first video game to own, and will always hold a special place in my heart)!

There are a lot more fun activities on the Nintendo site, like quizzes, videos, and even DIY wreath instructions – perfect (free!) fun for your family this holiday season.

Rice Krispie Treat Presents: Mini Chef Monday

Hi all! Christmas will be here in just four days and I’ve got a fun and easy food project you can do with your little one for the holidays.

Make Rice Krispie Treats, following the recipe on the cereal box. Instead of pouring the treats into a 9×13 pan, pour them into a sheet pan.

Cut six squares of the treats all the same size and form them into a box, pressing the corners to adhere them together.

RiceKrispieTreatBox

Fill the box with your recipients’ favorite treat – we went with red & green M&M’s.

CandiesInBox

The best part of this is letting kids have fun with it. Mine loved tearing it apart and eating pieces with M&M’s!

Continue Reading…

Guitar Hero Live Review

This guest review is written by my husband, Brian. He’s the gaming expert in the family.

The latest from Activision in the music game genre is Guitar Hero Live, a fresh new take on the guitar rhythm concept. Gone is the 5 multicolored button plastic guitar, and their latest hardware feels much more like you are playing a real guitar, rather than a toy.

Even at first glance on the box art, you can see this new perspective on the gameplay is evident, showing real people rather than animated graphics.

GuitarHero-Box

The back of the box is the first to tell the player of the two game modes, Guitar Hero Live and Guitar Hero TV. The first is familiar to veterans of the game series, playing through individual songs in a large show format. The second is a new take on the series, allowing the player to play along to other songs in the rock and roll universe, playing along with music videos of your favorite artists!

GuitarHero-InPackage

GuitarHero-Dongle

GuitarHero_Case

The song list of the tracks available in the base game is quite extensive, and bridges across multiple genres of music, from standard rock artists like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, to unique tracks from artists such as Skrillex, Katy Perry and Rihanna.

GuitarHero-SongList

Opening the box reveals the new hardware and software for the title, including the guitar, a dongle to plug in via USB to connect with your system (Xbox One represented here), guitar strap, the game, batteries, and instructions to get started.

I wanted to point out how nice the details are in the package, including the logo on the dongle, and actual good quality batteries instead of cheap off-brand ones that would fail after a few hours.

As you can see, the guitar comes in two pieces, to better fit in the box and for travel, but is easily pieced together and ready to rock in a snap.

Guitar-Pieces

After assembling the guitar, you will instantly notice the buttons are different from any other music game available before! Now instead of 5 single buttons in a row, there are two sets of 3 buttons stacked up on top of each other.

GuitarHero-Guitar-Case

 

GuitarHero-GuitarNeck

Once you fire up the game and start playing, you will see the notes highway is different as well, with 3 “strings” to follow, each with either a white, black, or combo button on each during the song. The black notes signify the top row, the white the bottom row, and both means exactly that, hold both buttons on that fret. Later in difficulty, you will have notes that signify different colors for each fret, so you really start to feel as though you are holding actual guitar cords.

Here are some screenshots showing the Live gameplay mode. This new mode uses live video rather than animated characters for background visuals, really making you feel as though you are ON STAGE while rocking!

GHLive_Positive GHLive_Stage1 GHLive_Stage2

The other mode to play in is a new edition to the series, getting to play along with music videos from your favorite artists!!! Not only that, you get to compete with other rock stars online and earn credits to spend in the store for swag and customizable features in your game.

 

GHTV_Video1 GHTV_Video2 ghtv-coop ghtv-ondeman

All in all, Guitar Hero Live is a breath of fresh air to the music/rhythm genre, and one that I welcome! From the live video backgrounds, to the new button layout, and the varied selection of music to play in TV mode, Activision has brought its A game after being on pause since the last Guitar Hero game. And with the new button config, never before have you felt more like playing an actual guitar!

Christmas Decor with a Twist

As I sit here in my living room writing this post, I can see our Christmas tree aglow with lights, our stockings hung above the fireplace, a large glass vessel housing vintage ornaments on our dining table, and many other special pieces that help give our home a festive feel.

If you’re looking for ways to add a Christmas touch to your home, take a look at these traditional Christmas decor alternatives – you might just want to try one of these fun ideas!

Check out Winter Wonderland: Traditional Christmas Decor Alternatives

by Tend Editor at Mode

Brick Swag Subscription Box – Perfect for LEGO Lovers!

Holiday Gift Guide 2015

We love LEGO in our house. Like, love it.

Our tree topper is made of LEGO.

Lego-Tree-Topper

 

We have two shelves dedicated to my husband’s architecture collection. We have sets for pretty much every holiday. Our boys have a LEGO table in their room, and a big set of drawers full of bricks. There’s another storage area in our game room/office, and my husband even makes LEGO art.

Continue Reading…

Christmas Shopping at Kohl’s for the Whole Family

Holiday Gift Guide 2015

We received a Kohl’s gift card to facilitate our review. All opinions are honest and our own.

Christmas is less than two weeks away, and we’ve still got quite a few people on our list to shop for. Last year I was pretty much done at this point, but this year’s been so busy. Maybe you can relate to that feeling!

I love shopping at Kohl’s throughout the year, but Christmas is an especially great time for me to head there – I can shop for the entire family and more!

I needed to find gifts for all three of our kids’ teachers, and Kohl’s has a wide selection of high-end chocolate.

Kohls-ChocolateDisplay

E decided these Ghirardelli chocolate squares would be perfect for her teacher!

Kohls-ChocolateSquares

 

Continue Reading…

Road Trip Survival Guide

If you’re like millions of other people in the United States, you’re probably gearing up for a road trip in the coming weeks. Although we’ll celebrate Christmas at home, we traveled for Thanksgiving with our three kids. Our trip was relatively short – about three hours – but still, we went into it with a game plan. We’ve learned from experience (a very long trip from Texas to Florida to Georgia and back) that it’s crucial to be prepared in order to make your time in the car as pleasant as possible.

Everyone has a different approach as to what’s important to bring – some people want to be minimalists, and some people pack so much that the car is practically stuffed! I like to think we fall somewhere in between, and we’ve figured out what works well for us to bring. I’ll share one of my must-haves below, and then I hope you’ll go check out my guest post over on the Ames Ford Lincoln blog to see the rest of my tips for road trip survival.

Have plenty of supplies. Snacks and drinks are key. I can’t even begin to tell you the power of a snack to calm a whiny child! We bring practical things like pretzels and applesauce pouches, but also have some heavy hitters like fruit snacks and candy as a special treat. Also be sure and have a stockpile of inexpensive, wrapped toys that kids can pick from at random points along the trip (if they have good behavior – it’s a great motivator to have a good attitude!). Be sure and bring plenty of blankets and pillows so the kids can get comfy (and hopefully take a nap or two as you travel down the road). See more here.

Three-Ingredient Fudge: Mini Chef Mondays

It’s an incredibly busy time of year, so I’m pretty excited to bring this super-easy, three-ingredient, five minute fudge recipe to you. It needs to chill, so it’s also a great make-ahead option. We made peppermint white chocolate fudge, but it would be very easy to substitute ingredients for a variety of different flavors.

Three-Ingredient Peppermint White Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients:

  • Bag of white chocolate chips
  • Bag of Andes Peppermint pieces
  • Can of sweetened condensed milk

Directions: 

  1. Pour white chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl.
    Three-Ingredients-Fudge-Pour-White-Chocolate
    Continue Reading…

Be Prepared When You Get on the Road

Will you be getting on the road in the coming weeks for a road trip? If so, I’m sure you’ve probably started thinking about what all to pack. Don’t forget Christmas gifts for the grandparents, blankets for napping on the road, or things to keep your kids occupied while you drive. And definitely remember to pack an emergency kit for your car.

It’s always a good idea to be prepared with some important basics. You can buy a pre-made kit, but if you assemble your own you know you’ll have exactly what you need when the situation arises. One thing you want to be sure and have is a fire extinguisher. Make sure you get one rated for Class B (those that involve flammable/combustible liquids, like gasoline, diesel fuel and kerosene) or C (those involving electrical equipment like switches and batteries) fires. If your engine catches on fire, you’ll be glad to have this on hand.

For other tips on what to include in your car’s emergency kit, check out my guest post over on the Antioch Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram blog.

Open the Door to Fairy Fun – Great Gift Idea!

Holiday Gift Guide 2015

We received a fairy door to facilitate this post.

I absolutely love toys that encourage creative play, and fairy doors from the Irish Fairy Door Company do just that.  They really provide a great opportunity to open your child’s imagination! Their handcrafted wooden fairy doors are made and decorated in Ireland, sprinkled with a little magic and ready for your fairy to move in!

  • Includes Magic Key in a glass bottle to invite your fairy in. All you need to do is believe!
  • Guaranteed Irish product, suitable for indoor or outdoor use. Each door is approximately 5 inches (12cm) tall. Decorations may vary slightly but the color will be as seen.
  • Includes secret code to access magical content online at www.theirishfairydoorcompany.com
  • Magical Matters App available to view their stories from Fairy Valley on any device

Just adhere your door to the wall in your child’s room or play room right above the baseboard, and you’re all set to have a fun game of pretend, letting your fairy visit through the door whenever your child is ready. These adorable doors are available on Amazon in a variety of colors!

Five Must-Haves for the Perfect Diaper Bag

You’ve probably seen my recent Pregnancy & Baby posts featuring products for new moms – with my new nephew being born in October, babies are on my brain.

Our gift to my sister-in-law was actually a diaper bag, which I think is arguably one of the most important things to get when you have a baby – there’s so much to bring along with you, especially when you’re dealing with a newborn.

Equally important to the diaper bag is the contents of the diaper bag. It can be a little  overwhelming at first trying to figure out what you really need to include and what’s not that crucial, so I decided to put a list together showcasing five must-haves for the perfect diaper bag.

1. Diapers.

Kiiiiind of a no-brainer, especially considering that the name of the bag is a diaper bag. Make sure you have plenty, especially in the first few months. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you go through them in the early stages!

Huggies Little Snugglers are a perfect option. They have GentleAbsorb liner and wetness indicator, which has tiny pillows that provide a cushiony layer of protection between your baby’s skin and moisture. For new babies, these are great because they have an umbilical cord cut-out that protects belly buttons as they heal. And you don’t have to worry about leaks – Leak Lock protects for up to 12 hours, and there’s a pocketed back waistband to help keep runny messes inside.

I found a great deal on these at Sam’s Club, which is a great place to stock up since you know you’re going to need a lot!

HuggiesSnugglers-Store

 

Check out how many came in the box – that’ll last you a while, even with a ton of diaper changes!

Huggies-Snugglers-Stacked

Continue Reading…