Frugal Novice

CanvasPop Provides Quality Custom Canvases


We received a custom canvas to facilitate this review. All opinions are honest and are our own.

Brian and I completed a BIG project this summer – a huge custom built-in bookshelf in our living room. We filled many of the shelves with books, but there are some larger areas that are intended to display art. These areas are unique sizes, so finding pieces to fit just right can definitely be a challenge.

I knew right away that I wanted a photo canvas for one of the spots, and I found out that CanvasPop could provide truly custom dimensions, allowing the canvas to fit perfectly within the shelves, with a 2″ margin on all sides. We love it!


The shelves of our built-in are a little less than 4″ deep so they can hold books but not stick out too far into the space. If we got a thin photo canvas, it might look a little too recessed, so this was something I was concerned about – until I went to place our order. CanvasPop offers a 2.5″ depth, which really gives a high-end feel.

Our canvas was hand-crafted, as evidenced by the seal placed on the back:

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We’re Keeping our Furry Foodies Happy with Beneful’s New Recipe!


This post is part of an ambassadorship with Beneful. I receive products, information, and compensation as an ambassador. All opinions are my own. We’re proud to be #FriendsOfBeneful! 

Blue_POSTERBrian and I consider ourselves foodies. We love to cook, we love to test new recipes, and we love to try new restaurants. One of my favorite things to do each weekend is to look up recipes and plan our meals for the week. We’ve gotten the kids in on our love of food, too – even our picky child! So it only makes sense that in this family of foodies we don’t want to leave out our sweet dogs, Sally & Ninja.

Beneful is a brand we’ve loved for our dogs for a long time, but we love them even more now that they’ve rolled out their new recipes for their dry food.


It’s a sign to us as dog owners that Beneful really cares about making the best quality food for our furry family members. Real meat is the #1 ingredient in their beef and chicken dry foods.



Did you know you can get a free sample of the new Beneful dry dog food so your pup can give it a try?Just go here to sign up.  (By the way – it’s important to note that dogs can be sensitive to change, especially when it comes to food. Even if you currently feed your dog Beneful, you’ll want to transition to the new Beneful recipe as you would for a new type of food. Check out these helpful feeding tips and tricks for how to make the transition smoothly.)

When we got our sample in the mail, Sally was practically beside herself with excitement.


I apparently took too long to open the package, because she hopped up with her front paws on the dining table. She’s never done that before (she totally knows that’s against the rules!) but apparently the allure of Beneful was too much!


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Curlformers Make Gorgeous Curls Easy!


I’ve always had straight hair, but I’ve always loved the way curly hair looks, and have wished I could have  that look for myself. Unfortunately I’m not a morning person and just don’t have the patience to stand in front of the mirror for an hour with a curling iron.

Thankfully I can now achieve gorgeous curls within minutes each morning, with Curlformers. These are SO cool – the design is genius, and they’re pretty foolproof.


You can put them in your hair, use a dryer to set them, and remove the curlers – or if you’re like me and aren’t a morning person, you can put these in your hair at night, sleep on them, and pull them out in the morning.


Brian helped me put these in my hair since it was my first time trying them, and he said it was really easy to do. It took about 15 minutes to put them all in, so I can only imagine that as I use them more and more it’ll become an even quicker process!


Check out my suuuuuuper cute look. Yes, I look like a friendly, makeup-free clown. But friends, it is worth it. These rollers are flexible plastic. They’re not soft like foam, but I slept in them and was comfortable.

It took literally 1 minute to pull all the rollers out in the morning, and I was left with some seriously impressive curls. I played with my roots at the front a bit to give them body and de-frizz, but I was really happy with the finished product and would definitely recommend them.

Here’s a photo I took immediately after removing the rollers, and before I adjusted my roots:

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Pancakes That Will Make Your Family Flip!


This post is part of a compensated ambassadorship with Denny’s. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Our family loves pancakes. We make them at home a lot… but now we’ve got some serious competition. Denny’s has upgraded their pancakes, creating a recipe so good it even tops those that are homemade!

One thing I’ve learned throughout my time as a Denny’s ambassador is that this is a company wholly committed to quality. They put hours of work into each recipe that makes it to the menu, so it was no surprise when I learned they transforming their pancakes with pure ingredients and classic flavors for a bigger, better, and tastier pancake. They’re now 50% fluffier and made with fresh ingredients such as real eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.


There are four limited-time signature builds available right now:

  • Sticky Bun Pancake Breakfast
  • Strawberries & Cream Pancake Breakfast
  • Double Berry Banana Pancake Breakfast
  • Peanut Butter Cup Pancake Breakfast

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The Dream Dog Park Project with Beneful


This post is part of an ambassadorship with Beneful. I receive products, information, and compensation as an ambassador. All opinions are my own. We’re proud to be #FriendsOfBeneful! 

Blue_POSTERYesterday we decided to take the kids on a special outing. We had dinner at home, and then told them we were going to the park, which garnered some moderate excitement – who doesn’t love a good playground? But then we told them we were going to a dog park, and that we were taking our Yorkie/Schnauzer mix, Ninja, with us. Glee erupted – they were thrilled! Ninja was pretty excited, too, and we promised Sally (our Lab/Golden Retriever mix) that we’d take her next time (Our city has a small dog park and a large dog park, so it’s easier to take them one at a time and all be able to hang out together in one or the other).

Ninja could hardly contain himself on the car ride over (he needs a hair cut, btw – he’s scheduled for the doggie spa tomorrow… so excuse his shaggy look!):




When we got to the park there were four other dogs already playing. Ninja was a little hesitant at first, doing his own thing with our family, but soon all the dogs were playing together.

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Three Tips for Surviving Your Baby Becoming Mobile!


If you’ve got older kids, you probably remember very clearly how life changed once your babies started crawling. Our three kiddos are all VERY mobile, but my nephew, who is nearly 9 months, will be crawling before we know it – so in his honor (and for all you other mommas out there with little ones), here’s a survival guide for getting through the transition to mobility:

1. Set up safe areas. When your baby starts moving, he’ll want to explore! We found that the best compromise for us was getting a large play yard (we got one with six panels that we could set up in a variety of shapes). We put it in the living room so that our son could cruise along the front edge of our couch and had a wide area with different toys set up around it. The panels allowed for us to link toys to the walls, too, so he had lots of different things to move to and play with. This way he didn’t feel too contained, and I wasn’t worried about what he might be getting into!

2. Buy diapers that will stay in place as your baby moves. Diaper leaks are NO FUN (especially if it’s a dirty diaper – EW!) so it’s crucial that you get the right diapers. Huggies are a great option – only Huggies diapers have a stretchy SnugFit Waistband to help the diapers stay in place like no other diaper. The unique contoured shape provides a comfortable fit and stays in place as babies move and play. We also love that Huggies have new and improved Leak Lock, which provides the protection and security you need between diaper changes. The double grip strips provide a comfy fit that lasts a long time. The DryTouch liner is another great feature that’s part of the Huggies “Moving Baby System,” so your baby stays dry as they move around and explore! Bargain tip: Sam’s Club members will save $3.00 instantly at check out until July 17th! 


3. Keep the floors clean. When you’ve got a crawling baby in the house, it’s more important than ever to keep the floors clean. Mop and vacuum more frequently than you normally would so that those little hands pick up less germs as they move around! You also don’t want them finding any crumbs, pieces of grass, or anything else to put in their mouths (because we all know everything ends up going into their mouths)!

I hope these tips help your little mover get going safely – and help to give you peace of mind as they get mobile!

Ad: Who Won Our Tyson® Chicken Nuggets Championship?


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

Now that summer is in full swing, I’ve had to adjust our grocery list to make sure we have plenty of great lunch options for the kids to eat when they’re home. I love having choices that are filling – and that are quick to make, too. I recently headed to H-E-B and stocked up on Tyson® Chicken Nuggets (by the way, click here and type in Tyson Chicken Nuggets into the search box to find a $1.00 coupon!) & State Fair® Corn Dogs (keep an eye out for the $2.00 yellow in-store coupon at H-E-B!) from their frozen section.

We love to go to the freezer aisle to stock up on foods that’ll fuel our kids for long days of playing hard. Both the Tyson nuggets and the State Fair corn dogs are good sources of protein, so they’re a great go-to for lunch or even for a mid-afternoon snack. The corn dogs are portable so we can just heat and eat – even take them in the car while out running errands! Our kids love that they’re fun to eat and that they’re a great mix of sweet and savory. And the nuggets are a win-win for me and the kids. The kids think they taste great, and I love that they’re made with 100% all natural ingredients, and use white meat from chickens raised with no added steroids or hormones.



The summer is also a great time to come up with creative activities, and the Tyson nuggets inspired me to do something really fun. Our kids love to watch cooking shows, and we’ve especially enjoyed watching some of the kids’ cooking championships as a family. Our two oldest kids have said they’d love to go on one of those shows, so we decided to have our own cooking challenge: the Chicken Nugget Championship.


The rules? Each of our boys was responsible for coming up with their own recipe using Tyson chicken nuggets. They had to use ingredients we already had in the kitchen for their creations. Brian, my mom, and I each tasted both recipes and were the judges.

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Five Tips for Getting Your House Move-In Ready – Plus a Free Printable!

overhead view of couple moving in to new home and using wireless internet on tablet computer

Acorn Disclosure

I can still vividly remember what it felt like packing up our first home to get ready for our move. There is SO much to do when you’re getting ready to move out of a place, and SO much to do when you’re moving in, too. It’s a thrilling time, but it can be pretty exhausting, too.

My friend Bailey and her husband bought their first house recently, and it was a lot of fun seeing pics of her new place and hearing about all their plans for the various rooms. Isn’t their house great? I love the big tree in the front yard!


If you’re about to be moving into a new house, whether it’s your first or your tenth, there are things you can do to make the space feel like yours and really be move-in ready. Getting everything thoroughly clean is the biggest step, and I’ve got five tips for you that’ll really help your home feel fresh, clean, and most importantly, like yours.

  1. Wipe down all the surfaces in your house. Your counters, of course – but go ahead and wipe down your mantel, your window sills, and the insides of your cabinets and drawers while you’re at it.
    What you’ll need: You can make a great DIY cleaner using vinegar, dish soap and water, and you’ll want to have plenty of paper towels on hand. We love Bounty Select-a-Size – then we can use as much or as little as we need, and they’re extra absorbent.
  2. Go ahead and wash all your curtains before you hang them. Whether they’re new or are being transferred from your old house, it’s worth it to have fresh, clean curtains hanging from your windows, free of wrinkles or folds from store packaging.
    What you’ll need: A washer and dryer, of course, and good detergent. Tide Pods make it super easy – we love them because we just have to toss one in and it cleans, brightens fabric and removes stains.
  3. Get the floors sparkling. I like to do a preliminary mopping before anything is moved in, focusing on places furniture will be placed to get them clean beforehand. After everything is in place and all the trekking in and out of the house is done, do another good mopping session.
    What you’ll need: A mop and cleaning solution. My fave? The Swiffer WetJet. It’s easy to use, and it traps and locks dirt so it doesn’t get pushed around on your floor.
  4. Refresh the air. If the house has sat empty for a long time, it might be a little musty. Or if you’ve had a crew of sweaty friends helping you move, you might want to clear that odor out of your new home, too. Open up the windows, let a nice breeze blow through, and then take the added step of making things smell great, too.
    What you’ll need: Find a good air refresher to get the job done. Unstopables Air Refresher infuses the air in your home with a boutique-worthy fragrance, giving an airy undertone that lasts for up to 6 hours.
  5.  Stock up on essentials. Get hand soap for all the sinks, dish soap and detergent for the kitchen. Buy your food basics for your pantry and fridge/freezer, and don’t forget the most crucial essential – toilet paper. You do not want to be without that!
    What you’ll need: With this tip, you’ll need to make a list of the various things you use most, but I think we can all agree that toilet paper will make that list. We like Charmin Ultra Strong – it’s 2-ply and allows you to use less than other leading toilet papers.Charmin_ToiletPaper

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Keep Kids Confident & Clean with Cottonelle


Motherhood is messy. That first diaper change in the hospital is just an introduction to many, many more messes to come. When your littles are potty training, there are bound to be accidents (unless you’ve got some super secret potty training skill – and if you do, please share!) to clean. And even once your kiddos have gotten bathroom trips down and go on their own, you’ve still got to keep an eye on them to make sure they’re getting completely clean.


Cottonelle FreshCare Flushable Cleansing Cloths are a perfect tool for moms to have in our arsenal for all those messy moments so you can experience a more confident clean. The cloths feature SafeFlush Technology™, so they start to break down immediately after flushing. They’re effective, alcohol-free, and are sewer- and septic-safe. They’re great for everyone in the family – not just kids!


Sam’s Club has a great deal on the cloths, so we stopped by to get stocked up. Right now you can save $3.00 instantly to get an even better deal!


DIY Summer Reading Program with Free Printable

When I was a child I participated in my library’s summer reading program. I read 100 books one summer, earning a trophy (which I still have today – see below) and a $50 savings account at the local bank. I remember loving that particular summer, going to the library as often as possible and reading as late as my parents would let me each night.

My "100 Books" trophy from my childhood can be seen in the white shelf over on the left of this photo.

My “100 Books” trophy from my childhood can be seen in the white shelf in this photo.

Because of my fond memories – and our desire to continually instill a love of reading in our kids – we decided to go to our local library and check out their summer reading program. They have a lot of activities kids can participate in at various branches around town, and each week children can come in to pick up a reading prize. I really appreciate how great our libraries are, but the program wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Kids receive prizes just for coming in each week. So you don’t misunderstand – I think it’s great to have incentive to go to the library on a weekly basis, and our kids love going in and seeing what prize they’ll get that week. I wanted a program for the kids that was more similar to mine, where there are prizes & privileges available based upon how much they’re reading.

I considered several factors when setting up our program. Our boys are 7 & nearly 9, and are reading at different levels. J, our oldest, reads very quickly – but he also reads thicker books. C is reading thinner books that inherently take less time than those J reads.

To keep things fair, I decided to create a system in which 20 minutes of reading earns 1 book buck. The book bucks are a currency the kids can spend on the prizes Brian and I have chosen for them to pick from.

I made book bucks to print out, and labeled a baggie for each of my kids to keep their “money” in. Click here – or on the image below – to download a free PDF for printing your own book bucks!

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Genius Uses for Kids’ Pools

In the summer, pools are the name of the game – they’re a great way to beat the heat whether you’re hitting up a hotel, visiting your community dive spot, or are lucky enough to have one in your back yard.

The only pool we’ve ever owned is a kiddie pool – but guess what? They’re good for more than just a little cool fun. Check out these uses for a pool that are outside the box:

Check out Unexpected Ways to Use a Kid’s Paddling Pool This Summer

by Bird Bird’s Party at Mode

Kids Eat Free at Denny’s!


This post is part of a compensated ambassadorship with Denny’s. All opinions are honest and are my own.

As you can tell by the name of my blog, I like to save money. I’m sure most of you do, too. And if you’re like us, eating out can be one of those things that very quickly adds up and drains a large chunk of your food budget for the month. I know for us, with three kids, the total for a dinner bill can be astounding sometimes.

Fear not, friends. You can eat out – with the whole family – and still live to tell the tale.

RM_DENN_KidsEatFree_4C-rework Final

Yep, you read that right. Denny’s offers free kids meals – usually on Tuesdays, but check your local Denny’s to find out when it’s available near you. Our location offers this twice a week – Tuesdays & Saturdays.

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