Frugal Novice

When Sick Gets Real


As a parent, there’s not much worse than looking at your child feeling miserable.


We’ve been really thankful that our kids rarely get sick – but when they do, we want to do anything we can to help them feel better. When we feel like Sick Just Got Real™, we head to Target and stock up on medicine, like:

  • Infants’ and Children’s Advil® provide unsurpassed fever and pain relief(1) , and contain ibuprofen, the medicine pediatricians use most for their own kids’ fevers(2) (for ages 6 months -11 years)
  • Children’s Robitussin® provides soothing action and cough control with some formulations lasting up to 8 hours (for ages 6-12 years)
  • Children’s Dimetapp® provides great-tasting cold-fighting power and is the #1 pharmacist recommended brand for children’s cough & cold symptoms(3) (for ages 6+)


If the kids are battling a cold, we let them sleep in our room; we make a comfy bed on the floor with plenty of pillows to prop them up; I run a humidifier in our room and also have the kids spend time in steam by running the shower hot. I also set alarms on my phone to get up periodically through the night and check temperature.

What do you do to make your kids more comfortable when they’re sick?  Well, you can start by having Pfizer products on hand! I’m giving away a Pfizer prize pack, and it’s super easy to enter for a chance to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 Among OTC pain relievers.

2 Based on a survey of doctors.

3 Source: 2015-16 Pharmacy Times and U.S. News & World Report.

Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Covered Pretzels


This week’s recipe is SO simple but it’s also one of my very favorite treats I’ve ever made, so it seemed perfect to share for Mini Chef Mondays. My kids love these, and think it’s a lot of fun helping me make them.

What is this treat, you ask? Imagine eating a Girl Scout Peanut Butter Patty/Tagalong, and it being even better.

Yup, friends. I’m confidently proclaiming that these are better than Girl Scout cookies.

Peanut butter stuffed, chocolate coated pretzels. SO good.

I mean, chocolate and peanut butter? Amazing. Chocolate and pretzels? SO good. All three together? Perfection.

We were immediately hooked, and I think you will be, too.

The recipe just requires two ingredients:


Melt the chocolate almond bark in the microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between. Make sure not to overheat the chocolate or it will seize up. You can vary the amount for this recipe easily; I used one square and was able to cover 20 pretzels.

Dip each pretzel into the melted chocolate and place it on wax paper to dry.


Eat. And try not to eat them all in one sitting.


Good luck with that.




I am hosting Mini Chef Mondays along with 10 fabulous bloggers! Read how Mini Chef Mondays started, plus how to link up!
Join our facebook group to find even more recipes and share recipes too!

Get featured and follow us too!
  • Pinterest: Each post/recipe linked up will be added to our Mini Chef Mondays board
  • Instagram: Use our hashtag #MiniChefMondays so we can repost your mini chef
  • Twitter: We retweet every post with #MiniChefMondays

Be sure to check out each of their Mini Chef posts as well!

  1. Frozen Yogurt Fruit Bark Recipe // Courtney’s Sweets
  2. Ham & Egg Cups // Momma Lew
  3. Yogurt Dipped Frozen Banana on a Stick // Baby Loving Mama
  4. Bacon Egg and Cheese Pretzel Bites // We’re Parents
  5. Tips for Planting a Kids Vegetable Garden // Eating Richly Even When You’re Broke
  6. Pastelillos de Carne (Puerto Rican Meat Turnovers) // Giggles, Gobbles and Gulps
  7. 18 Mother-Child Bonding Activities // Step Stool Chef
  8. Broccoli Mac and Cheese Bites // Vegging at the Shore
  9. Slow Cooker Philly Cheesesteaks // O’Boy! Organic
  10. Chocolate Milk Mini Fudge Pops // Can’t Google Everything

Captain Obvious Runs… and I mean RUNS… for President


No matter what your political ideology, I think we can all agree that this has been a tumultuous election season. That’s why there’s someone who’s keeping it simple:

Captain Obvious is running for President the only way he knows how….by actually physically running. And running. And running.

He’ll be providing satirical commentary on what has already proven to be an “interesting” election year. Sometimes you’ve gotta laugh so you don’t cry, amiright?

You can follow Captain Obvious’ run on the “Captain Obvious Runs For President” microsite where you can watch what states he’s run through. You can also grab some merchandise, and share content. is supporting Captain Obvious during his race because they believe in simplicity as much as he does – and he’ll need a place to sleep at night. They’ll be providing him with running shoes, socks, shorts and everything else he needs for his run.

So, this political season, let’s follow the KISS adage – keep it simple… err… smartypants! Follow Captain Obvious as he runs for president, one step at a time. Find out more about his campaign, and follow him on Twitter, too!

Memories Lost: Avoiding a Wedding Photo Disaster

Wedding photos laid on a table. Studio shot on wooden background.

You and your beloved are planning the celebration of your lifetime together, a day that will provide amazing memories for years to come. After the ceremony, dancing, wonderful food, and time with friends and loved ones, the most lasting part of the day (aside from the marriage!) will be the wedding photos.

Choose Wisely

Expect to pay at least $1,400 for photography services for the day. A reputable wedding photographer knows their craft, but you’re also paying for their limited number of work days available in a year. Cutting the budget too much can bring low-quality results, or even worse, an con artist who will give you horror stories instead of the stunning photos you want. Wedding photographers with a strong track record of professionalism and high quality results are in demand; fees might be $2,100 and up.

Ask about their camera and lenses, plus backup plans in case of equipment malfunction. How do they handle low-light or bad weather situations? Is there an assistant to help capture all the festivities?

Other questions to ask: What are their scheduled hours, and are they available for additional time? Do they carry liability and indemnity insurance? What’s the number of weddings they have photographed? Can you view results from at least three of the weddings they’ve shot?

Continue Reading…

5 Ingredient Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad


The recipe I’m sharing with you today has been a favorite in our family for years now. It’s delicious, and it is one of the absolute easiest recipes ever! This chicken pesto pasta salad has always been a hit at parties, so I knew it’d be perfect to make as part of our Easter brunch – and it’s a perfect recipe for little ones to help with, too!

As the title indicates, there are just five ingredients in this recipe. You can make your own pesto, and we have in the past, but there are lots of great pre-made pestos available that are perfect to use in this pasta salad.


Boil your pasta per instructions. While the pasta is boiling, drain your chicken and pour it into a small sauté pan; cook it on medium low heat for about 5 minutes, breaking it up into small pieces while it cooks. You’re basically just cooking out some of the moisture. If you are weirded out by using canned chicken, you can use a cup of shredded white chicken instead. The canned chicken really works great in this recipe, though, and saves you a ton of time.

Pour your pasta into a big bowl, and then have your chicken and pesto ready.


Continue Reading…

Perfect Baby Shower Gift – Diaper Genie Gift Basket


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

I have lots of friends having babies lately – it seems like it comes in cycles, doesn’t it? With lots of baby showers to shop for, I’ve been trying to get creative with the gifts I give, and I love the idea I’m sharing with you today.

My friend who just had her baby boy also has a two-year-old little girl; this means she has two in diapers, which as you moms know adds up to a LOT of diapers! I knew a Diaper Genie would be perfect for her, so I headed off to Target to grab that and look for a few other things to go with it. Target is our favorite store to shop at – our whole family loves to go – and it’s a one-stop shop for baby gear, too. We had baby registries there with all three of our kids!



We got our Diaper Genie back in 2007 when my first son was born, and I was amazed with all the features the Diaper Genie Complete offers now. It really is the most advanced system yet; it has an ultimate odor lock system that features a 7-layer refill bag with a double Air-Tite clamp. It also includes a carbon filter that really helps absorb diaper odors to keep them from spreading out into your room.


It also has a hands-free system. Yes, you still have to touch the diaper (we can dream, right, moms?) but you just use your foot to press a pedal and open the top, so you drop the diaper right in. SO easy!



Changing the bag on the Diaper Genie is easier than ever, too – you just open the front tilt bin to pull it out.

So, as I mentioned, I knew going to Target to get the Diaper Genie. Next, I just needed to figure out what else to include. I decided to get a bottle, and since she’s nursing I thought the Playtex Baby VentAire bottle would be perfect. The “Most Like Mom” NaturaLatch nipple mimics the breast to help babies latch on naturally, so it promotes easy switching between breast and bottle feeding. It’s also got a unique anti-colic bottom vent, and the angled design helps prevent ear infections.


I got the bottle and then a few cute onesies and a burp cloth to round out my gift! Then it was just time to get home and put it all together.

Continue Reading…

White Chocolate Covered Grapes


Hi all! Easter’s right around the corner, and this week’s Mini Chef Monday post has a simple, sweet treat that’s perfect to add to your menu.

We’ve all had chocolate covered strawberries before, and I am sure you’ll agree with me that they’re pretty delicious. These white chocolate covered grapes, though, are something a lot of people haven’t tried before, so they’re a fun surprise to offer. And they’re SO good! The sweetness of the white chocolate perfectly compliments the tart green grapes.

You just need two ingredients: green grapes and either white chocolate or vanilla almond bark (both are delicious)! The almond bark will dry/set much more quickly, so it’s all about preference and the amount of time you’ve got.


Continue Reading…

Gourmesso Coffee – Affordable Espresso at Home


My husband loves espresso. When we go to the coffee shop, he gets two shots of espresso put in his coffee. Of course, the drink costs him nearly $5 each time we go!

There are alternatives to coffee shop espresso that are great for home use, like Nespresso machines. We were really excited to get one for our home, because that meant Brian could have espresso whenever he wanted (and it’s great to be able to offer espresso to your guests when entertaining)!

The capsules that come with the machines, though, can still be somewhat pricy. Cheaper than the coffee shop, of course, but the frugal person in me would like to save as much as possible without sacrificing quality.

That’s where Gourmesso comes in. Their capsules are available from just 45 cents each, and they’re compatible for Nespresso machines. The Gourmesso capsules are pictured in the front below next to a Nespresso capsule – you can see they’re the same size & shape.


Did I mention they’re fair trade, too?

We tried out five different flavors:


The flavors are rated on a scale of 1-10 to show how bold/strong they are:


Since Brian likes really strong coffee, the etiopia blend forte is perfect for him. My mother-in-law is visiting this week, though, and the decaf perú dolce was perfect to make for her. Let me show you how easy it is! Just load your machine with water (we keep ours full so the machine is ready to go whenever we need it), and then place your capsule in, then close the handle and select your size.


Continue Reading…

DIY Personalized Laundry Organization System


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!



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.

Continue Reading…

Lemon Bars With Blackberry Drizzle


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!


Continue Reading…

Super Cute – and Easy – Diaper Wreath Tutorial


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).
  • 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-Diapers-Sams-DiaperWreathStacks-Diapers-Huggies
  • Assorted ribbon
  • 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)

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

Continue Reading…