Frugal Novice

Full Home, Happy Home with Sam’s Club {Giveaway!}

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We’re pretty excited that Christmas is right around the corner. Well, I’m pretty excited. My kids are absolutely thrilled and are convinced time isn’t moving quickly enough to propel us to December 24.

As a parent, though, I’m thinking about all that needs to be done between now and then. I’m not nearly far enough along with gift shopping, I have cleaning I should really get done for company that’s coming, and of course I need to stay on top of all the essentials we need around the house.

Sam’s Club is a really great solution for us in this most busy time of year; I can get both what we need and what our friends and family want for Christmas.

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Green Toys Dump Truck

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Holiday Gift Guide 2015

We love Green Toys, and our kids have had several of their vehicles over the years. Their products are made in the USA from 100% recycled plastic milk jugs, saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emission. Chunky, sturdy, and durable, the fleet features a front loader with a moveable scooper, cement mixer with a revolving drum, and a dump truck with a classic open-box bed.

Perfect in a sand box, toy box, or gift box, these pint-sized trucks are just right for little hands, and can easily be tossed in a diaper bag for on-the-go fun. Each vehicle comes with its own bulldog construction worker, and the figures are interchangeable among all three. Great for individual play, or sharing and swapping with friends.

No BPA, phthalates, or PVC, and dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. Packaged with recyclable materials and printed with soy ink.

We received the dumper, which is smaller than some of their other trucks like the fire engine, for instance. We plan to give this to our baby nephew so that it can be one of his first trucks when he gets old enough to play! You can find this truck, and many other Green Toys, on Amazon.

Creamy & Crunchy Chicken Crescents: Mini Chef Mondays

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Oh my word, guys – it’s December. We’re even getting a few cold days here in Texas, and there’s nothing better on a cold day than a nice, warm, comfort food meal – and these creamy & crunchy chicken crescents are just that. We’ve made these for years, but this was the first time E helped me make them – and she loved it! There are lots of opportunities for getting your hands dirty, which kids love.

Here’s the recipe – and don’t forget, as always I’m sharing step-by-step photo instructions so you can make this with your mini chef!

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Blu Bot Robot Great for Beginning Robot Enthusiasts

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Holiday Gift Guide 2015

 

We received a Blu Bot Robot from Silverlit to facilitate this post. All opinions are honest and are our own.

Our oldest son, who’s 8, has had a robot on the top of his Christmas list for months. To be honest, we were a little hesitant to buy him one because we weren’t sure if it’d be something he’d lose interest in quickly. When I got the opportunity to try out the Blu Bot, it was a great chance to test the robot waters.

BluBot

The Blu Bot is available from Silverlit and has two modes of play:

Standalone:

  • Pre-programmed steps for moonwalk style movement
  • Built-in I/R sensor for motion detection
  • Different facial expressions when robot moves

Bluetooth:

  • Gesture control, robot moves per screen touch and see the real time movement from the dedicated app
  • Voice changer brings extra fun
  • Spy function for recording and playing messages

If you want to do Bluetooth mode, there’s a free app available from the app store that’s easy to use and have a lot of fun with.

The bottom line is this: The Blu Bot is a great starter robot. It has some programmable movements which kids will have fun with, and the spy function is something straight out of movies (and who doesn’t want to have a tool in their arsenal with a little brother or sister around?). Our boys had fun with it and argued over who got to play with it next. A few weeks out they play with it a lot less, but at its lower price point I still feel like it’s a worthwhile purchase if your child really shows a lot of interest in robotics.

Spread Cheer with Betty Crocker this Christmas!

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We’re in the midst of the Christmas season, and I’ve been trying to brainstorm about what to do for our neighbors. They’re great – always happy to keep an eye on our house when we go out of town, and just all-around good people.

We decided it’d be fun to spread a little holiday cheer to them by making some cookies to surprise them with. Betty Crocker inspired the idea with their free gift tags and info sheets about how to participate in continuing on with spreading the fun to others.

It’s a busy time of year, though, and we knew there’d never be a perfect time to work on cookies. Then I remembered how quick & convenient the Betty Crocker cookie mixes are, so we knew we could make some great cookies even on a busy weeknight. We ran over to H-E-B to pick up the mixes and the few other things we’d need.

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We decided to make sugar cookies, and besides the mix we only needed two other ingredients – a stick of butter (melted) and one egg. SO easy, and stuff we already had on hand in the fridge.

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Put HP Envy 5540 & HP Instant Ink Under the Tree This Year!

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Holiday Gift Guide 2015

This post is compensated, but all opinions are honest and are my own.

We all have those people on our list that are so hard to shop for, right? I know I do! I spend countless hours researching ideas for gifts so I can give something that will be appreciated and useful.

The HP Envy 5540 e-All-in-One printer is a perfect gift idea for virtually anyone. Whether your college-aged son needs a printer for class projects, or your mother wants to scan old family photos, the Envy works for everyone and is definitely something that will get lots of use. It lets you do printing, scanning, and copying.

Right now when you buy the HP Envy 5540 e-All-in-One printer you’ll also get 3 months free of HP Instant Ink!

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Biscotti & Kate Mack – Ultra-Chic Fashion for Little Girls!

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We have three kids – two boys, and then our youngest is a girl. It’s a night and day difference between clothes shopping for our sons and for our daughter. The boys couldn’t care less, but our daughter loves to pick out what she is wearing and has quite an opinion about it all!

It can be hard to find great clothing that isn’t too cutesy; but there are places out there, like Biscotti & Mack, that have really great clothes for little girls. You know, clothes you kind of wish were made in your size too! I love their style, and I’ve got a great deal for you – right now if you sign up for their email list you get 10% off! Just click here to sign up!

Happy shopping!

Take Your Phone’s Photos to the Next Level with Olloclip

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Holiday Gift Guide 2015

We received the Olloclip to facilitate this post. All opinions are honest and our own.

We take a lot of photos in our family. I might currently have more than 10,000 photos on my phone. Maybe. So when I learned about the Olloclip lens I knew this was right up my alley, and I couldn’t wait to try it out.

The 4-in-1 Olloclip lens is compact, and easy to use. It features four advanced optic quick-change lenses (Fisheye, Wide-Angle, Macro 10x & 15x) that weigh in at less than an ounce.

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The Olloclip enhances your field-of-view beyond the phone’s built-in camera. The Fisheye and Wide-Angle lenses enable you to capture more – ideal for photographing panoramic landscapes or a snapping a selfie with a group of friends. Access the Macro lenses by unscrewing the Fisheye and Wide-Angle lenses to photograph crisp close-ups and get detail-oriented beyond the naked eye.

This pocket-sized, award-winning design now works on both front and rear-facing cameras; so you can let your photos and selfies run wild. It also comes with 3 wearable pendants.

You can find the Olloclip online at olloclip.com!

Lemonade Cake: Mini Chef Mondays

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We went to Austin this past week for Thanksgiving, and I thought it’d be fun for my mother-in-law to join in on the Mini Chef Mondays fun.

I started dating my husband back when we were in high school, and one of the first things I can remember my mother-in-law making is lemonade cake. Oh my word, people, this cake was good. It’s been years since she’s made it, though, and we realized that my kids hadn’t ever even tried it. It seemed like the obvious choice for the recipe to share with you today!

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It also fit in great with a new book we recently read called Mother Bruce. It’s a fun story about a grumpy bear who loves to cook, and who inadvertently becomes mama to some goslings; there’s a part at the end that includes lemonade, so capping off the story with a treat tie-in was a lot of fun. Find out more about the book here!

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Here’s the recipe – and don’t forget, as always, there are step-by-step photo instructions for you to make this cake with your kiddos!

Lemonade Cake

Ingredients:

  • Lemon cake mix
  • Lemon jello mix
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil & 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Pour lemon jello powder in mixing bowl; then add in the boiling water and mix until the jello is dissolved.
  3. Add the vegetable oil and lemon juice, then mix.
  4. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing after each egg.
  5. Wipe 9×13″ pan down with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, then flour the pan. Pour batter in pan, then bake for 40-45 minutes.
  6. While the cake is baking, mix up your glaze – 2 cups powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons lemon juice.
  7. Once the cake has cooled, pour the glaze over the top of the cake and let it set until the glaze has hardened.

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Free Teacher Christmas Gift Printables

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It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving has passed and now the Christmas season is here. You might be like one of my friends, who’s virtually done with her Christmas shopping before December even arrives. Or you might be like me, who has barely started thinking about it.

If you’re in the latter group, I’ve got something that’ll help you knock one recipient off your list – this printable is a great gift for teachers! Have your child color it and then put it in a frame. If you want to add more customization to it, you can get an unfinished wood frame at Michael’s and let your child decorate the frame, too.

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Click here to download the free printable!

If you’d like something to go along with the printable, a perfect companion gift would be a cute jar of “snow corn.” It’s SO easy to make, and I’ve even created a snow corn label for you to download and put on your container!

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#BEFlavorFull with Birds Eye Sour Cream & Onion Potatoes

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As I was cooking our Birds Eye potatoes to go with dinner the other night, our middle child, C, came into the kitchen. “Mom, it smells good in here. It smells like those potato chips I love!” he said. “You’re right!” I told him. “These potatoes are sour cream & onion, and I bet you’re going to love them!”

If you’re looking for a way to get your kids excited about veggies, look no further than Birds Eye Flavor Full frozen veggies. They have a great variety of options available, all with powerful flavor profiles that make the veggies a fun addition to any meal. The current options available are:

And in some areas (including mine), you can find these, too:

  • Sweet Chili Carrots
  • Wasabi Peas
  • Fiesta Lime Corn

 

I love the Flavor Full veggies too because they’re so easy. We served these on a very busy evening, and all we had to do was put the bag in the microwave. You can’t really beat that! We served the potatoes up with some dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, and our kids pretty much thought it was the best meal ever.

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With Birds Eye Flavor Full veggies, it’s now easy to serve your family vegetables every day of the week. The unique and delicious flavors include Buffalo Cauliflower, Ranch Broccoli, Sour Cream & Onion Potatoes, Teriyaki Broccoli, Barbecue Sweet Corn, Sweet Chili Carrots, Wasabi Peas and Fiesta Lime Corn.

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Harvested and flash-frozen at their peak freshness, Birds Eye uses only the highest quality vegetables for all its products. From pure and simple vegetables, to mixed medleys, to easy-to-prepare vegetables in sauce, any cook can have a host of nutritious menu options just minutes away.

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Right now (through the end of this year) you can get a $1.00 off ocoupon for Birds Eye Flavor Full veggies! Just click here to download the coupon and you’ll be on your way to an easy, delicious, flavor full dinner your kids will love.

Hallmark Holiday Traditions

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We received four Hallmark ornaments to review. We were not compensated monetarily for this post, and we truly love Hallmark Keepsake ornaments and their Charlie Brown sets.  All opinions are honest and our own.

If you saw my Hallmark post from last year, you know we are huge Hallmark Keepsake ornament fans. Getting new Hallmark ornaments each year is a favorite tradition of our family and is one we always plan to incorporate into our Christmas festivities.

Beyond the ornaments, Hallmark offers all sorts of other really fun Christmas decor. For instance, back in 2011 we got this set of Charlie Brown characters; they each play an instrument, and they interact with each other remotely to all play songs together. They’re so fun, and our kids adore them.

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This year Hallmark has released the Charlie Brown Peanuts Gang Light Up Show.  There are five, although not all of the characters have been released yet (we’re already planning to go this weekend and get Linus & Snoopy!); this set not only plays music, but it has an interactive light show timed with the music and coordinated between each piece. It’s colorful, fun, and incredibly impressive. We’re so glad to have it as a part of our Christmas decor.

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Of course, I’ve also got to share which ornaments we picked this year! The kids loved looking through them all, and each one found an ornament that’s truly a perfect fit for their personality.

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