Frugal Novice

DIY Personalized Laundry Organization System

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

With five people in our house, we go through a lot of laundry each week. We have to work hard to stay on top of it, or it can pile up and become a monumental task.

Because of how much laundry we go through, it’s crucial that we do two things: stay equipped, and stay organized.

We always make sure to be equipped with plenty of detergent, because there’s nothing more frustrating than having to run to the store in the middle of laundry day.

As with any of our essentials, I go to Sam’s Club to stock up on detergent. Their exclusive Member’s Mark® Ultimate Clean Liquid Laundry Cleaner is really affordable (in fact, on my most recent trip it was just $11.98 for 177 ounces. I love that this detergent delivers superior performance without costing a ton – it provides enough for about 115 loads of laundry, which will get us through 4 or 5 months.

It also has a patented Ultimate Clean Technology that works great on tough stains to get them out – even in cold water loads. I know we’ll have clothes that are brightened, whitened, fresh, and clean when we use the Member’s Mark detergent – and the Fresh Scent smells great!

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I mentioned above that I like to be equipped and organized to stay on top of our laundry. I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient, and in that spirit I thought I’d share this great, easy, and cheap personalized laundry organization system. This will help our kids put their clean laundry away, making it an easier process for us.

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Lemon Bars With Blackberry Drizzle

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Our kids love lemon, so it’s a go-to flavor profile whenever I’m considering what dessert I should make. You might remember us making lemonade cake a while back! Well, this time we decided to make lemon bars with an added treat – blackberry drizzle.

These lemon bars are perfect for spring & summer – they’re light, bright, and cold. They’re easy to whip up, too!

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Super Cute – and Easy – Diaper Wreath Tutorial

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

One of my good friends at work had a baby a few weeks ago, and we’re planning a baby shower. I’m having way too much fun helping with it – I created onesie-shaped invitations (complete with little bow ties to go with our theme) – and I’ve made a really adorable diaper wreath that will be a great welcoming feature as people arrive.

Diaper cakes have been really popular for a long time now – I’ve made, and received, my fair share of them. I think they’re really fun and can make a perfect table centerpiece, but with this shower I wanted to do something a little more unique.

Diaper wreaths are great on several levels: they, like I mentioned, are placed on the front door and welcome guests to the party. Another pro? The diapers are easy to remove and use. And unlike a diaper cake, you don’t have to find a big surface to store the wreath on when you take it home.

The best part about diaper wreaths, though, is they’re SO easy to make! You just need a few supplies:

  • Rubber bands (I used the little bands my kids had for making bracelets – we have tons of them left over now that the craze has passed).
    RubberBands-Diaper-Wreath
  • Diapers (I went to Sam’s Club so I could get a big bunch; I had plenty for the wreath and I know my friend will love getting the big box of extras, too). My friend loves the great quality of Huggies Snug & Dry, especially the fact that they provide up to 12 hours of protection and keep her baby’s skin dry!  There’s a great deal for $7 off at Sam’s right now on Ibotta (get it for yourself here), so that was a total win!
    Huggies_Sams_DiaperWreath
  • Huggies-Diapers-Sams-DiaperWreathStacks-Diapers-Huggies
  • Assorted ribbon
    Ribbon-Diaper-Wreath
  • Glue gun & glue sticks
  • Wreath shape (I bought one made out of MDF but you could cut a shape out of cardboard, foam core, or another material you have on hand)
    Diapers-Wreath-Form

Now let’s get on to how to assemble the wreath!

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Mini Pizza Pot Pie Recipe

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We love pizza in our house – it’s one of the foods that all three kids will actually eat and enjoy, and it’s easy (which means a lot on a weeknight, amIright?)

Sometimes, though, it’s nice to have an alternative to an old standby, so we like to make what we call mini pizza pot pies as a fun twist on our typical fave.

I’ve shared this recipe several years ago, but thought it deserved to be resurfaced for Mini Chef Monday because it’s a perfect mini-sized meal for your mini chef to eat and to help make with you!

We made these when we had friends over for dinner one night – they have two kids, too, so it was the perfect dinner choice. My friend Kristi used two sizes of plastic cups to cut out rounds of pizza dough – a larger round went into the bottom of the muffin tin, and we used the smaller one to top it off. This is a great and easy way for you to let your kids help prep – you can cut the dough without any sharp knives needed!

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Another thing that’s great about this recipe is that you can use a variety of combinations to fill the pizzas. You could do ground beef mixed with pasta sauce, spinach, pepperoni, or a mixture of the three, along with shredded mozzarella to add that cheesy goodness.

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Once all the pizzas are filled, top off the dough and fold the tops and bottom together to get a nice seal. Use kitchen shears to snip a small slit in the top and allow steam to escape while baking.

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Bake at 350 degrees until the dough on top is golden brown, let cool for a bit, and they should pop right out of your muffin tin. Don’t they look delicious?

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And each one is filled with all sorts of flavor:

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Perfect for adults & kiddos alike!

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These would be great for grab & go dinners, because it would be incredibly easy to eat these while you’re out and about. They make nice leftovers, too – just pop a couple in your lunch bag and you’re all set at work the next day!

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Is your mouth watering yet? Here’s the recipe so you can go home and make these tonight:

Ingredients:

  • Pasta sauce
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Pizza dough, either store-bought or homemade
  • Pepperoni
  • Any other ingredients you’d like to add! Red peppers, onions, olives, and mushrooms could all be great additions.

Directions: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Using a plastic cup, cut out a round of pizza dough to press into the bottom of a well in your muffin tin – there should be a little dough overhanging the edges so you can crimp it with the top layer of dough to seal! Put dough out for as many of the pizzas as you’d like to make.
  3. Fill your pizzas with whatever combinations of ingredients sound best, making sure to include sauce and cheese either in between layers or on the top so you have flavor and so your pizza isn’t dry. Don’t pile your ingredients any higher than the top of the muffin tin.
  4. Use a smaller plastic cup to cut out a smaller round of pizza dough, and place this on top of your creation, and fold the edges from the bottom layer over, pressing to seal the two rounds of dough. Using kitchen shears, snip a small slit in the top of each one to allow steam to escape.
  5. Bake your pizzas about 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. Enjoy!

As always, I am hosting Mini Chef Mondays along with 11 fabulous bloggers! Read how Mini Chef Mondays started and how to link up!

Be sure to check out each of their Mini Chef posts – and we would love it if you would share your Mini Chef posts ( this can be a kid-friendly recipe, or a recipe you made with your kiddo) with us each week, too!

Follow along socially and join in on the fun by using our hashtag #MiniChefMondays to share creations your mini chef created in the kitchen.

  1. Healthy Mac and Cheese Recipe // Courtney’s Sweets
  2. Original Rice Krispies Treats // Momma Lew
  3. Chocolate Dipped Sundae Marshmallows // Baby Loving Mama
  4. Homemade Chicken Meatballs // We’re Parents
  5. Alphabet Snack H is for Hippo // Eating Richly Even When You’re Broke
  6. Peep S’Mores Bites // Giggles, Gobbles and Gulps
  7. Teach Your Kids to Cook THIS Spring Break // Step Stool Chef
  8. Easy to Make Hamantaschen // Vegging at the Shore
  9. Turn Recipes into Memories with a Keepsake Cookbook // Mom’s Messy Miracles
  10. Whole Wheat Pretzel Bites // O’Boy! Organic
  11. Carrot Cake Dip with Easter Bunny Chips // Can’t Google Everything

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AfterShokz Bluez2S Headphone Giveaway {ARV $99.95}

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If you’ve ever been out running or biking on a busy highway, you know how important it is to be aware of sounds – like approaching vehicles – around you. And if you’ve ever gone to the gym with a workout buddy, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of wanting to listen to music to motivate your workout while still being able to chat with your friend.

AfterShokz headphones are an innovative bone conduction headphone that don’t go in – or even ON – your ears. These Bluetooth headphones have bone conduction transducers that rest comfortably in front of the ears, transmitting sound through the cheekbones to the inner ears via mini vibrations, bypassing the eardrums completely. This means your ears are actually open so you can hear other sounds around you at the same time. You can listen to music, other audio, or make & take phone calls all while retaining ambient sound awareness.

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The Bluez 2S headphones from AfterShokz have some enhanced features, including:

  • Premium open ear audio experience
    PremiumPitch+™ is proprietary audio technology that assures the finest in bone conduction audio. PremiumPitch+™ delivers a balance of crisp detail and discernible bass, with two EQ presets to enhance music further.
    The secret to clearer phone calls is the precisely placed dual noise canceling microphones that exclude surrounding noise, effectively enhancing speech.
    Finally, battling the single most frustrating drawback of bone conduction—natural sound leakage—is LeakSlayer™, an innovation that works to release sound generated by the transducers in order to cancel sound generated by the housing. Even at high volume, music and conversations are confined to the wearer.
  • Increased sweat resistance — IP55 certified
    Bluez 2S are IP55 rated to ensure they’ll power through daily sweat sessions and wicked weather. An extra layer of protective housing was added to make sure sweat and moisture won’t damage electronics inside.
  • Improved controls
    Controlling music and call features right from the headset has been a fan favorite, as it allows devices to remain safely tucked away during activity. A raised power button and larger volume button delivers a friendlier user experience.

The Bluez 2S headphones from AfterShokz are available for pre-order and will begin shipping to retail partners and consumers October 15, but you can have a chance to try them out before anyone else! Just enter my giveaway below and you’ll have the chance to win one Bluez 2S unit valued at $99.95 – and you can even choose the color, picking from black, red, green metallic and neon green.

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Princess Bread

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I’m sure you won’t be shocked to learn that my three year old daughter, E, loves pink and purple. Purple is her very favorite right now, because Sofia the First wears a purple dress, and E thinks Sofia hung the moon.

We incorporate pink & purple into her clothing, her accessories, her bedding, and even her food. Ice cream and suckers are chosen for what color they are, with no thought whatsoever given to flavor. We’ve even made purple waffles for breakfast before, and that gave me the idea to give another food the “princess” treatment – bread!

I call this Princess Bread because it incorporates pink & purple, and because my daughter will instantly love bread that sounds like it’s something Sofia would eat! This is a typical sandwich bread recipe, but you could put strawberry or grape preserves on it for added princess flair. And imagine how fun it’d be to surprise your child with this bread on her sandwich at lunch!

Here’s how to make Princess Bread with step-by-step pics – and the recipe itself will be shared below!

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Six Delicious Pancake Recipes With 5 Ingredients or Less

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We eat a lot of pancakes in our house (largely because it’s something all three of my kids will actually eat!). Saturday morning pancake breakfasts are a tradition we’ve all come to love, and maybe your family is the same way. As much as we love our standard pancakes, though, it’d be nice to upgrade our breakfasts to something a little more special. And thanks to my friends over at FamilyFun magazine, I have six great pancake recipes to share with you – and none of them use more than 5 ingredients. Just take your standard dry pancake mix (our favorite is this Kerbey Lane buttermilk mix) and cook the pancakes as you normally would after you’ve added the extra ingredients listed for the recipe you choose.

Easy and delicious? Love it!

CHOCOLATE PEANUT-BUTTER CHIP

  • 1 cup pancake mix
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • ? cup peanut-butter chips
  • Water

RED VELVET

  • 1 cup pancake mix
  • 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp. red food coloring
  • water

Red Velvet Pancakes

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How to Increase the Value of Your Home

If you’ve saved up money to invest in your home, you might be wondering: where’s the best place to spend your money to get the best return in terms of the value of your home?
There are a number of areas that can significantly increase the value of your home. Where you spend your money will depend on what how updated your home is in various areas, and, of course, your budget.

The Kitchen

If there is one room that should be shipshape and looking sharp in order for the best value, then it’s the kitchen. For many, it is the heart of the home. It’s where we cook, where we eat, where we do homework, watch television or have parties. So, the better it looks, and the more “mod cons” – modern conversions – it has, the better.
There are a number of points to consider when it comes to the design of your kitchen including the kitchen triangle; if you haven’t heard of the triangle, it’s where the sink, the fridge and the stove are all within easy reach of each other. Install up-to-date equipment, but make sure that the kitchen matches the price bracket of the house. A new kitchen could add up to 4-5% on to the value of your home.

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How to Cook Steak Like a Pro

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I love a good steak. When I was pregnant with our youngest, I started craving beef like I never had before, and it stuck with me. One of my favorite meals to get when we’re out is a lean sirloin with mashed potatoes & roasted veggies. SO good! Or if I’m really treating myself, filet mignon is just the best.

However.

I have no clue how to cook a steak.

I love to cook, and consider myself a good cook, except when it comes to steak.

So I was pretty thrilled to discover this – and I’m hoping it can help me learn to cook steak and be proud of the finished product. And not just that, folks – you can take cheaper cuts of steak and make them taste downright delicious. I’m on board!

Check out How to Make a Cheap Steak Taste Fancy

by Foodie Editor at Mode

Hope this is helpful to you, too – you’ll be impressing your significant other in no time!

Super Soft Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Maybe it’s because we just had Valentine’s Day, but when I was trying to think what we should make for Mini Chef Monday this week, chocolate was involved in every idea I had. Ultimately, though, I settled on super soft double chocolate chip cookies (try saying that five times fast) because they’re easy to pack in the kids’ lunches throughout the week – and they’re chock full of chocolate flavor.

They’re really easy to make, and E was eager to help as always. The batch we made creates 24 small cookies, but you can easily double this if you want more. I like this smaller batch, because it really doesn’t require much in the way of ingredients. You’re likely to have all of this on hand at any given time, so you can get your chocolate fix at a moment’s notice.

If you need an endorsement for how good these cookies are, they made two boys stop playing Minecraft to come over for a taste!

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Homemade Pesto Ravioli

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Ahh, ravioli. If you read my recent post about our basil fettuccine recipe, you know we love making pasta. That’s probably our favorite, but we like to venture out into trying other recipes, too. The fettuccine was originally shared on my old food blog, as was the ravioli I’m sharing with you here today.

My favorite ravioli has always been four cheese. I mean, combining cheese and pasta – two amazingly delicious things – is pretty much the pinnacle of flavor, right?

Well, we figured out a way to top that.

Pesto.

Yes, my friends, that’s right. Forget spooning pesto on top of the pasta.

That’s for amateurs.

We put the pesto right in the filling.

And it. is. fabulous.

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Simple & Sweet Tea Party Menu

My daughter, E, is 3 and a half now, and she is all about tea parties. She got a tea set for Christmas, and she makes us all sorts of tea to drink (we’re so British now, right?). I thought it would be fun for this Mini Chef Mondays post to focus on a simple and sweet tea party menu that you could put together for your little girl. It’d be great for a birthday, or for a fun play date with friends.

This menu consists of 5 items – simple!

  • Raspberry Tea
  • Cheese & Cracker Tray
  • Heart-Shaped Sandwiches
  • Dipped Marshmallows
  • Chocolate Mini-Cakes

Most of the items on the menu are pretty quick to put together, but I thought it would be fun to let E in on the fun and bake the chocolate cakes together. We got two adorable baking sets from Handstand Kids – the Deluxe Baking Set and the Cupcake Baking Set – and E was so proud to have her very own kitchen tools to use.

E-HandstandKids-Tools

The kits included measuring cups, measuring spoons, spatulas, a whisk, silicone cupcake and cake molds, a frosting bag and tips, and more, all in fun hues. They also came with recipe cards, and we used their “Easy Peasy Chocolate Cake” recipe for our tea party.

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The batter made enough to have a variety of cake types – we made mini muffins, cupcakes, a mini loaf and a mini bundt. You can serve these plain, with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, or could add frosting and sprinkles if you’d like to add some color to the table.

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Now, on to the other menu items:

  • Raspberry Tea: This is an easy way to make an elevated tea (with a pink hue – win!). Make sweet tea as you normally would (using about 5 tea bags). In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of fresh raspberries and 4 cups of water to a boil until the raspberries start to break down. Run the raspberry mixture through a fine strainer and add the raspberry syrup to the tea; mix well. Pour tea into goblets and add a few fresh raspberries to float in the glass for a pretty presentation.
  • Cheese & Cracker Tray: If you haven’t seen them already, Pepperidge Farms makes adorable butterfly-shaped crackers. Pair these with sliced cheese cut into flower shapes with small cookie cutters, and you’ve got a tray fit for a princess.
  • Heart-Shaped Sandwiches: Continuing the theme of pretty shapes, make small sandwiches with whatever ingredients you prefer (turkey and cheese, chicken salad, etc.), then use a large heart-shaped cookie cutter to add a special touch.
  • Dipped Marshmallows: You’ll need marshmallows, lollipop sticks, candy melts, and sprinkles for this quick and easy treat. Place a stick into each marshmallow, then dip marshmallows into the candy melts and sprinkles. There are a ton of colors available so you can mix and match to your heart’s desire!

And if you’d like to get your little one involved in tea party prep, check out all the kits and gear available for little ones from Handstand Kids!

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As always, I am hosting Mini Chef Mondays along with 11 fabulous bloggers! Read how Mini Chef Mondays started and how to link up!

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Be sure to check out each of their Mini Chef posts as well. We would love it if you would share your Mini Chef posts with us each week, too! Follow along socially and join in on the fun by using our hashtag #MiniChefMondays to share creations your mini chef created in the kitchen. Additionally, if you have a kid-friendly recipe that kids can easily recreate, link up! Don’t have a blog? Share the URL of your instagram photo in our linky below.

  1. Chocolate Caramel Apple Nachos // Courtney’s Sweets
  2. Easy Pizza Dough Recipe // Momma Lew
  3. Easy Pumpkin Bread Pudding // Baby Loving Mama
  4. Homemade Bread Bowl Recipe // We’re Parents
  5. Kid Friendly Meal Chicken Nugget Kabobs // Eating Richly Even When You’re Broke
  6. Mango Clementine Banana Smoothie // Giggles, Gobbles and Gulps
  7. Yummy Dutch Apple Crisp // Step Stool Chef
  8. Riceless Vegetable Sushi // Vegging at the Shore
  9. Chicken Chilaquiles with Eggs // Mom’s Messy Miracles
  10. Apple Pie Taquitos // O’Boy! Organic
  11. Strawberry Blueberry Swirl Fruit Leather // Can’t Google Everything