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Frugal Basics

Create a Car Emergency Kit Five Items that Should be in your Car’s Emergency Kit

Set of basic necessities

I’m a planner, and I like to be prepared. When it comes to being on the road, particularly for long road trips, it can be crucial that you have a proper emergency kit stashed away in your trunk. It’s  easy enough to put together, and you’ll sure be glad you did – better to have one and not need it than the other way around! You can buy pre-assembled kits, but as with many things, you can save money by purchasing just what you really need. I have a list of the top five things you should make sure you include when you’re putting your kit together – here is the first:

1.     First-aid kit. This one is a no-brainer, probably. But the majority of you reading this post now probably don’t already have one in your car, do you? It’s one of those things we know we need, but we never get around to purchasing. You can find really basic kits, or you can assemble your own. Neosporin, band-aids, antiseptic wipes, gauze, adhesive tape, and aspirin are all great things to include. Your family might have specific medical needs that you want to consider, too.

For the rest of my must-haves, go read my guest post at the David Hobbs Honda Dealership blog.

Five Things to Check Out when Buying a Used Vehicle

Used Car For Sale

Our current vehicle was bought used, and the experience was a good reminder of what to pay attention to when shopping. We ended up being really happy with our purchase, but it’s crucial to shop smart. I’ve got five tips for things to make sure and check out when you’re buying a used vehicle, and here’s the first:

1. The aesthetics. I don’t mean what color it is, although I totally understand preferring a certain color (we had to get a black minivan so it looked a little more “sporty”). Look for dents and rust and misaligned seams to doors on the outside; notice stains or burns on the interior. Every used car will have a little wear and tear, but if damage is extensive or over-the-top aesthetically, it might be a sign that the previous owner didn’t take great care of it (how many oil changes did they actually have done, anyway?).

For the rest of my tips, check out my guest post at the Ken Garff West Valley Pre-Owned Dealership blog!

Five Tips for Safe Winter-Weather Driving

WinterDriving

Whether icy weather has reached your neck of the woods yet or not, it’s probably only a matter of time before you find yourself navigating some slick roadways. One of the biggest hazards of driving in winter weather is drivers who don’t know how to handle the ice, so equip yourself with knowledge and be prepared! I’ve got five tips for driving safely in winter weather – check out the first below:

1. Don’t make rapid movements. Accelerate slowly and brake slowly. If you have anti-lock brakes, don’t pump your brakes even if you’re feeling frantic about needing to stop. If you know you’ve got a turn approaching, gradually slow down in advance so that you can make the turn without needing to brake around the curve.

For the rest of my tips, check out my guest post over at the Ken Garff West Valley Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram dealership blog.

Harley-Davidson Ups the Cool Factor for Holiday Gifts!

Note: I received a pair of men’s and women’s gloves to facilitate this post. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are my own. 

My Uncle Mike has always been someone important in my life (fun fact: our middle son’s middle name is partially in honor of Uncle Mike!); I have many memories of going up to visit my grandparents at the holidays and spending time with him and my Aunt Joan. Several years ago we were in the area they live and got to go visit them, but since they live several states away we don’t get to see them nearly as often as we’d like.

My aunt and uncle love to ride motorcycles, so I was incredibly thrilled to have the chance to send them an extra-special gift this year: beautifully-crafted, high-tech, leather gloves from Harley-Davidson.

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I received the Men’s Valve Full-Finger Gloves, and the Women’s Mystic Dual Chamber Full-Finger Gloves. They’re both incredibly well-made and it’s evident from first glance that a lot of care was put into every detail. And oh, the smell of that leather!

Here are some features of the men’s gloves:

  • Cowhide leather and tricot lining
  • Rolled tip fingers for comfort
  • Ergonomic thumb
  • Pre-curved fingers
  • Gel-padded palm
  • Comfort seams
  • Neoprene cuff with adjustable closure
  • Embroidered graphics

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And here are features of the women’s gloves:

  • Goatskin leather
  • Dual chamber design provides two ways to wear depending on which chamber you put your hand inside. The warmth chamber provides added warmth allover the hand or the grip chamber allows for increased feel of the grips
  • Gel-padded palm
  • Pre-curved fingers
  • Power-stretch knuckles with contrasting stitching
  • 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material piping
  • Elastic wrist with adjustable closure

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Even though it’s not listed on the Harley-Davidson site, both pairs of these gloves allow you to use your smart phone, with special material sewn into the pointer finger and thumb. So nice and high-tech!

If you’re looking for something special to give a motorcycle-lover in your life, I’d highly recommend these gloves. They’re sure to be a hit!

 

PEEPS make a Peep-Tacular Addition to Stockings!

Note: We received PEEPS to facilitate this post. We were not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are our own.

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If you’re on the hunt for perfect stocking stuffers, you might be surprised to learn that Peeps is the perfect solution. Yes, the classic treat you think of for Easter has all sorts of options for the holidays! From chocolate-flavored reindeer to, yes, gingerbread-flavored gingerbread men to candy cane-flavored classic Peep shapes, there’s something fun for everyone this holiday season. Our kids had a BLAST looking through all the options, and really had a hard time deciding what to try first.

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Minions won out – aren’t they adorable?

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E went with the candy cane Peep (dipped in chocolate, yum!) and loved the red “sparkles.”

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And Brian went with the classic-flavored Christmas tree Peep. SO cute and colorful!

We’re having friends and family over on Christmas Eve for snacks and treats, and I’ll have a platter of Peeps out for the kids to pick from. But of course we’ll set some aside for the kids’ stockings Christmas morning, too – I hear Santa loves to deliver Peeps! :)

Shopping for “That Person” on your List: The Annual Challenge

Note: This is a partnered post with Shopular. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I love shopping for others, whether it’s for a birthday or during the holidays. Finding the perfect gift that I know friends or family will love really brings me a lot of joy, and the hunt for said gift is just as fun to me as the actual giving!

Of course, then there comes that recipient… the one who has everything, or who is just difficult to shop for. For me, it’s often one of the men in my life – my husband, my brother, or Brian’s dad or step-dad. So, not to be stereotypical, but very often the hardest category to shop for is the “For Him” category.

One approach to shopping for those hard-to-gift people takes quite a bit of forethought; at the beginning of the year, make a conscious effort to pay attention to things people mention wanting or needing. Notice that your little brother wears through Chuck Taylors pretty quickly? Bingo – shoes for Christmas! Or, like my sister-in-law told me; she heard her mother-in-law say she needed a new baking dish, and she filed that information away months in advance so she could have the perfect gift.

Another route you might go is a subscription box. They’re fun and take people out of their comfort zone a bit, and it spreads the gifting out over the amount of months you subscribe the recipient to.

You can also ask questions about the recipient’s childhood. Everyone is nostalgic about something and if you can tie your gift into a pleasant memory from years ago that can make it extra special.

However you end up finding the oh-so-perfect gift, you’ll want to make sure you shop smart and find the best deals out there. Shopular is a great app that puts deals at your fingertips on your smart phone, and you can even browse deals for inspiration.

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I keep up with Shopular on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, too, so I’m in the know about any shopping deals, especially around the holiday season! 

Get Your Vehicle Winter-Ready with These Great Tips

WinterizeCarTips

There’s no denying it: fall is in full swing and winter is knocking on the door. Some parts of Texas have already seen snow, and with the mild summer we had it’s a good idea to be prepared in case we have a cold, snowy winter – even in Texas. Even if you park in a garage, your car will eventually be affected by the elements when you’re out and about. I’ve got five essential tips for preparing your vehicle to brave the winter cold – here’s the first:

1. Use a synthetic sealant or a wax to help protect your car’s finish. If you’re driving in an area that salts to de-ice the roads then your car is being exposed to even more potential damage, so using a sealant right before winter hits is a great way to provide a barrier against the elements for the winter months. It’ll give your car a nice shine, too.

For the rest of my tips, please visit my guest post on the Bossier Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership blog.

Winterize Your Wardrobe Without Breaking the Bank

Note: This is a partnered post with Shopular. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Since I live in Texas, the majority of my clothes are warm-weather focused. Capris, short sleeves, and sandals fill my closet. Even in Texas, though, shorts just aren’t going to cut it year-round. In late November and early December it starts to get noticeably colder and I start thinking more about how to prepare my wardrobe for the winter months.

My favorite approach to updating my clothes for winter is layering. I must confess, I’m a total cardigan addict (I think I probably have 30 in my closet right now) and it’s largely because they’re so versatile. A shell that you wear on its own in the summer looks great paired under a cardigan for colder months.

Another option for layering is adding in a scarf; I am late to the scarf game but now I’m totally getting hooked! They’re a great way to provide warmth and bring a pop of color to your wardrobe, too.

When it comes to shoes, I’m a flats kind of girl, and in the past I’ve always worn ballet-style flats, even in the winter. This means that my feet often end up freezing even if the rest of me is warm! Now, though, I’m loving boots for winter! In fact, it’s really cold here today and I’m so glad I have on my black boots. They come up to right under my knee and they are definitely helping keep my legs and feet warm! You can go casual or dressy with boots, so they’re perfect whether you’re at home or at work.

No matter what route I go in adding some warmth to my wardrobe I always make sure to hunt down the best deals before shopping. I know I’m not going to wear these clothes year-round, so I don’t want to spend a ton of money on winter pieces. I like to make a plan before I go out: I write down all the pieces I’d like to look for – a solid cardigan, printed pants, etc. – so that I don’t end up buying duplicates or something I don’t really need.

I also find all the sales going on before I head out so that I know which stores are worth going to – Shopular makes this incredibly easy, so I just pull up the app before I head out and scroll through to see what stores are offering discounts on things I’m specifically looking for. I keep up with Shopular on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, too, so I’m in the know about any shopping deals.

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It’s easy to update your wardrobe for winter, and you can do it without emptying your wallet if you find deals on Shopular. Have fun shopping, and stay warm!

Get Better Fuel Efficiency NOW – Five Tips!

FuelEconomyTips

The cost of gas can add up quickly, between driving to work every day, running errands, and of course especially on road trips. You can’t always help how much you’re driving, but you can take steps to get better fuel efficiency in your vehicle and make your dollar stretch just a little bit further. Try these great tips today to get started:

Don’t carry around a bunch of clutter. Toys, sports equipment, musical instruments – these all can end up piled in the back of the car, and they can all add up to significantly increase the weight of the load you’re driving around. Carry only the essentials in your car and travel lighter.

For four more tips that’ll you’ll definitely want to start using today, please visit my guest post over on the Elder Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership blog.

Make New Years Resolutions – For Your Vehicle!

Car-NewYearsResolutions

With the new year approaching, we’re all thinking about taking better care of ourselves. Make sure to take the time to think about your vehicle’s health, too – your wallet will thank you later. I’ve got five resolutions you should make for your car – here’s the first:

1.     Take your car for regular tune-ups. Our oil change place even offers free check-ups in between oil changes, because they recognize that it’s a great way to keep your car in tip-top shape. 

For the rest of this must-do list, please visit my guest post over at the Holt Fiat dealership blog.

Black & Decker Digital Blender Perfect for Moms On-the-Go!

Note: I received the blender to facilitate my review. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are entirely my own.

Now that the school year is underway, we’re fully immersed in what I like to call the wake-and-dash routine.

This involves getting up, waking the kids up, taking the dogs out, showering and getting ready, making sure the kids have breakfast, making sure the kids are getting dressed, making lunches for the kids… you get the picture, and if you’re a parent you know all too well how much of your morning routine is taken up with thinking about the kids.

As a result, I’m often out the door with no thought of breakfast for myself, and I end up snacking on things not ideal for starting the day. I’m thrilled, though, to discover the Black and Decker BL1820SG-P Fusion Blade Digital Blender to help save my mornings.

BlackAndDecker_DigitalBlender

At first glance, this might seem like your typical blender; and in reviewing it as just that, it stands up pretty great against competitors. I love the glass vessel and the plastic casing around the bottom that slips over the base and stabilizes everything. I’d buy this blender just for having a good blender.

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Black & Decker takes it one step further, though – or several steps, really – by providing pre-programmed buttons and a personal smoothie jar, too. Love it!

If you’ve ever made a smoothie before, you know that you typically have to start and stop the blender several times, jostling things around to get it well-blended. No more! Just push the “smoothie program” button and you can walk away and finish one of the other million things you need to do.

BlackAndDecker_DigitalBlender_Controls

If you watch the video above, you can see how simple it is – and how well it works – but you can also see my before & after pics below. I just threw in some frozen fruit and some orange juice, and ended up with a great smoothie ready to take with me!

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I love that once you’re done blending you can just put on the new lid and you’re ready to go; you don’t have to try to pour it into a different cup, potentially spilling it all over the counter (ahem… speaking from experience), and you don’t have to bring a cup with no lid in the car, accidentally splattering some of the smoothie in the car (ahem… again… speaking from experience).

You can find the Black & Decker digital blender on Amazon or at Target and other retailers. You’ll love it for making your busy mornings a little less crazy, and for all the other things you can make with this high-quality blender, too.

Tailgating Must-Haves

Note: Thank you to Sam’s Club for sponsoring today’s post and helping me get ready for tailgating this Football Season.


We love to entertain, and with it being football season, tailgating is the perfect opportunity to get together with friends for a little fun and food.

When I think of tailgating, there are certain elements I know I will want to have:

  • A TV to watch the game on, if you’re not attending it in person – my husband would say you need a 60″ screen, minimum!
  • An awesome grill, portable if you plan on tailgating at the game location.
  • Snacks – I like to use Kraft Velveeta and tomatoes with chiles to make queso, and my husband loves hot dogs with chili. The kids would say we just need candy!
  • Plenty of cold beverages for everyone – lemonade, water, and sweet tea would be my picks!
  • A camera to capture memories!

What I love to do is stop by Sam’s Club before we host any sort of get-together. I know I can find great deals on everything from food and drinks, to necessities, to a sweet TV (that my husband would approve of, even!).  Be sure and check out their tailgating essentials so you can find everything you need in one easy (and wallet-friendly) spot!

What do you consider must-haves when you’re preparing for tailgating?