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Frugal Basics

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

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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?

The Baby Monitor that Can’t be Hacked

Note: We received the Levana Keera monitor to facilitate our review. We were not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are our own.

We’ve had a baby monitor in our house for years now, starting when our first son was born almost 7 years ago (wait – he’s almost 7? That can’t be right!). So you can imagine that when I heard news reports about monitors being intercepted, it definitely worried me. I even read one story about a man hacking a monitor and screaming at a 10-month-old. Scary! I want Brian and I to be able to check on the kids – not random strangers.

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Thankfully, there’s a monitor on the market that can give parents the security of knowing images of their baby will not be intercepted by an unwelcome audience: Levana video monitors. They are all made with secure 750 ft ClearVu Digital Signal, developed exclusively by Levana, so no one can intercept your signal. The Keera monitor has a private, secure and interference-free digital signal that no one but you can access.

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The fact that the monitor can’t be intercepted definitely sets it apart from others, but there are also many other features that I love about the Keera:

Smooth & Silent Pan/Tilt/Zoom Camera

Using the monitor from anywhere in your home, you can adjust the camera view horizontally 300° and tilt vertically 110°. When you find what you are looking for, zoom in to examine what you are seeing in even greater detail. Love this capability. We’re able to get a broad view of our kids’ rooms with the push of a button on the receiver.

Record Video & Snap Photos Instantly

Capture precious moments as they happen with your choice of recorded video or still photos on the included 2GB micro SD card. Does your baby sing to herself when she wakes up in the morning? You can record the moment without interruption.

Talk to Baby™ Two-way Communication

Calm your baby with the sound of your own voice with two-way Talk to Baby™ intercom. Our older boys like this feature too because they can ask us a question easily from their beds.

Invisible LED Night Vision

Invisible infrared LEDs provide a clear image of your child in the dark up to 12ft away. Your baby will sleep more soundly without the distracting red LED lights found on traditional baby video monitors. You can see your child really clearly even in a dark room.

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3 Soothing Lullabies

Does your baby love the sound of lullabies before bed and cry out for more when the music stops? The Keera monitor has three lullabies that can be remotely activated and changed by your parent unit. This is a feature I never would’ve thought of, but it’s another great way to soothe your baby without going in and potentially waking them up even further.

Expandable up to 4 Cameras

The Keera monitor’s expandable system grows with your family; add up to three additional cameras to conveniently view up to four areas of your home on one monitor. Right now we have the two cameras, and it’s perfect – we can check on all of the kids easily and switch from camera to camera.

I truly love the Levana Keera monitor and wish it had been around back in 2007 when we started our family!

Shell Fuel Rewards Network

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I love saving money, and I love freebies. If you look through my wallet, you’ll find quite a few rewards cards I’ve accumulated over the years for various stores and restaurants. If I’m going to be spending money at these establishments anyway, it only makes sense to me that I ought to be earning rewards while I’m spending. That’s why I really love the Fuel Rewards Network from Shell. It offers you real savings at participating Shell stations. Here’s how it works:

  • Simply earn Fuel Rewards savings when you purchase the items you normally buy, like groceries, clothing and household goods and redeem them for cents per gallon savings at participating Shell stations.
    For a limited time, new members of the Fuels Rewards Network program can get a 25 cents/gal sign-up bonus when they join the program – that means you’ll earn a savings of 25 cents per gallon just for signing up! To qualify, you must purchase at least 8 gallons of fuel on your first fill-up using your Fuel Rewards Network Card, while enjoying at least 3 cents/gal savings.  Then, the 25c/gal will be credited to your account for your next fill up!
  • Signing up is simple! You can request your free Fuel Rewards Network Card online at FUEL REWARDS DOT COM or pick one up at any participating Shell station and activate it online, OR text “Rewards” to Shell 1 (743551) to join.
  • There are several ways to earn Fuel Rewards savings:
    • Shop online with your favorite online brands through the online mall at FUEL REWARDS DOT COM. More than 700 online merchants offer at least 5 cents per gallon for every 50 dollars spent.
    • Earn rewards from dining out and purchasing groceries.
    • And, at select Shell stations earn rewards at the convenience store on items like your morning coffee or your weekly car wash.
  •  Savings can be redeemed on any grade of Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasoline including Shell V-Power Premium Gasoline as well as Shell Diesel, up to 20 gallons per purchase! Simply swipe your Fuel Rewards Network Card at the pump before you pay and watch your price drop instantly before your eyes.
  •  And that’s not it! You can receive an additional 5c/gal every time you refer a friend or family member to join the Fuel Rewards Network program.

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Protection for Infants Against RSV is Vitally Important

Note: “I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for MedImmune. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”

It was only a little over a year ago that we welcomed our third child–and first daughter–into our family. She was born in September, which is right at the cusp of all the cold and flu spreading. So of course, as many moms do, I worried about keeping her safe and healthy against all the germs that are out there. RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) is one of the biggest things I worried about, because although it is a mild illness for older children and adults it can be life-threatening for infants, especially those that are born prematurely. RSV is very common and is contracted by nearly all kids by the time they turn two. It occurs in epidemics each year (typically from November through March) and it is the leading cause of hospitalization for babies during their first year of life in the United States. It’s responsible for approximately 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 400 infant deaths each year.

We educated ourselves on the symptoms of RSV so we could know if a simple cold was really something more. You should contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
  • Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
  • Fever (especially if it is over 100.4 degrees F rectally in infants under 3 months of age)

We also worked to keep our daughter away from germs as much as possible. We washed our hands like crazy and made her older brothers wash theirs a lot too (hand sanitizer was very used in our house last fall and winter!). We stayed away from people we knew had been sick, and we kept her car seat covered when we were out in public. This helped keep airborne germs away, but it also kept out prying hands that might touch her hands or face and spread germs in that way as well.

For more information on RSV, check out this helpful infographic below and also visit www.RSVprotection.com.

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Guest Post: Save Money on Summer Travel by Driving!

How can driving on vacation save us money?

The summer holidays are fast approaching, but if the budget’s tight it can be hard to plan the perfect family vacation. Airfares are high, accommodation isn’t cheap and there’s usually activities to splash out on once you get there. Driving to your destination may not sound like your idea of a relaxing break, but it could leave you with more money in the bank and, if you play your cards right, some very happy kids! Here, PassSmart’s blogger, Isabelle, shares some top tips for saving money on your driving holiday.

Stock up and save

One of the main advantages of driving on holiday is that you can take more with you. If you opt for a self-catering holiday, you might want to consider taking food supplies with you in a cooler box to make sure the things in your refrigerator don’t go to waste while you’re away. You can also save money by making sure you take everything the kids need to keep them entertained whilst you’re away. After all, If they’ve got their favourite toys and activities with them, they’re not going to be asking you for new toys from the local shop… hopefully!

Fuel savers

Whilst driving may be a cheaper option compared with the cost of flights, we all know fuel isn’t free. There are, however, ways to conserve fuel and money, even on long road trips. Try to find the most economical route for your journey. Even if highways are the quickest option, they may not be the most fuel-friendly. If you have a GPS navigation system, it may have an option to help you choose the most economical route, so check yours out before setting off.

Another positive of avoiding the highways is that you’ll get a chance to actually enjoy the journey. The drive doesn’t have to be a chore, and, if you plan your route carefully, you might even have a chance to stop off and enjoy your surroundings on the way!

Explore

When you’ve got your own car to get you from A to B, you’re not restricted to staying in one place. Unlike when you fly abroad, you’ll be able to travel to different places, taking in new experiences. This may sound like an expensive way to travel, but, because you’ll be so busy exploring during the day, you can find budget accommodation to use as your base. Consider staying in one place for a few days before moving on to another town. You’ll get a lot more for your money in local hotels and B&Bs, and you’ll be able to fit much more into your time away.

Go off the tourist trail

We all know that tourist-friendly areas are more expensive to visit. Save money by going off the tourist trail and into quieter areas. Restaurant prices, hotel rates and the cost of souvenirs are all likely to be lower if you go off the beaten track, and, thankfully, having your own car makes that a whole lot easier!

Make memories

Remember, making memories is free so all you have to do is enjoy yourself! Drive safely, take plenty of photos and enjoy your vacation!

This partnered post comes from our friends at the British company, PassSmart.com.