Frugal Novice

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!

NewHome_Bailey

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.
    BountyPaperTowels
  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.
    TidePods
  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.
    SwifferWetJet
  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.
    Unstopables
  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

Continue Reading…

Keep Kids Confident & Clean with Cottonelle

Cottonelle-Wipes-Featured

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-Wipes-Stacked

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!

Cottonelle-Wipe

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!

Cottonelle-Sign-InstantSavings

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!

Continue Reading…

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!

DennysKidsEatFree-Featured

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.

Continue Reading…

Our Family is #FriendsWithBeneful!

Beneful-IncrediBites-WetFood

This post is part of an ambassadorship with Beneful. I receive products, information, and compensation as an ambassador. All opinions are my own.

Our dogs are complete opposites from each other. Sally is a labrador/golden retriever mix, and is about 80 pounds. Ninja is a schnauzer/yorkie mix, and is about 12 pounds. She’s HUGE and he’s little. She’s got light fur and his is pitch black.

They couldn’t be better buddies, though. These two love each other, and we love them. They’re a perfect part of our loud, busy, sometimes chaotic family and I just couldn’t imagine our house without them.

DogsTogether

If you’re ever looking for these two, just find us. They couldn’t be more loyal companions and they always want to be right where we are (they’re sitting beside me as I write this post!). If I’m walking around the house working on things, I often hear the jingle of both of their collars as they follow right behind.

SallyShaking_AndNinja

Continue Reading…

Give Your Office Space Style with Martha Stewart

Martha-Stewart-Office-Featured

This is a partnered post with Martha Stewart. All opinions are honest and my own.

Y’all. Don’t judge.

This was my home office space a few weeks ago. I managed, but as you can see my desk was cluttered and not the most appealing place to get work done. It had good bones, but it was calling out for a makeover.

Before-Office-MarthaStewart

The workspace is in our master bedroom, and giving it a facelift was the first step in giving our whole room an update (stay tuned for more posts to see our progress)!

Martha Stewart has a line of products available at Staples, and the moment I saw the collection I was absolutely in love.

MarthaStewart_Items

Even just looking at the thumbnails of various setup options you can see these are colorful and striking pieces that create a graphic and bold impact no matter which way you arrange them. I love (like love) teal, and was excited to add some of the color to my workspace.

MarthaStewart-Binders

Check out these great filesfolders, and binders. I can keep my work stuff separate from blogging and freelance materials, and thanks to the great bookplates, I can easily see at a glance where to find anything I need. I love the metal accent – it provides a great high-end look.

MarthaStewart-Notebook

And oh my word, the Discbound customizable notebook is practically made for me. Like I mentioned earlier, the teal color speaks to my organizing heart. And the dividers you can add make it easy to set the notebook up just how you want it.

MarthaStewart-Notebook-Inserts

It’s so easy to change things out. And friends, there are pockets so I can have everything I need right at my fingertips. Perfect for work lists, for home lists, for grocery lists.. for anything I need to jot down. It’s a must-have.

MarthaStewart-Organizer

MarthaStewart-Drawer

This organizer is another favorite. The way I have this set up actually combines three pieces in the Stack+Fit line: the desk organizer, inbox with drawer, and small item holder. There are great compartments for pents, paper, paperclips and more.

Continue Reading…

Celebrating #Amazinghood with Dreft

DreftParty_Featured

This is a compensated post in partnership with Dreft. All opinions are honest and are my own.

As a mom of three kids, I’ve gone through my fair share of Dreft – and I’m betting all of you other moms out there can say the same thing. It’s always been my go-to detergent for my babies because of how gentle it is, and I recommend it to all my friends that are moms-to-be.

Parenthood and babyhood is messy, but those messy and imperfect moments are often the most memorable – don’t you agree? Thanks to Dreft, parents can embrace the mess of #amazinghood. Dreft celebrates babies and parenting and, well, the #amazinghood of motherhood. I got the chance to host a gathering with a couple of my mom friends recently to talk about what we think the most amazing part of motherhood is – and I got to share Dreft goodies with them, too.

DreftParty-People

My friend Aimee said she thinks the most amazing part of being a parent is watching her kids play pretend, and seeing where their imaginations take them. Sarah said she loves watching her kids grow into their personalities. I love seeing my kids do things for others without being prompted – seeing kindness and thoughtfulness in them really makes me feel like I’m doing my job as a parent!

It was great to get together and chat about parenting, and I got some fun pink snacks to enjoy, too.

Prepping for my @dreft party – so fun! #Amazinghood #motherhood #baby #party #frugalnovice #ad

A photo posted by Christi (@frugalnovice) on

Like I mentioned, I got to share Dreft goodies with my friends, too – check out all they got to take home in their goody bags:

Continue Reading…

Give Your Baby a #SecondHug with Huggies Little Snugglers

HuggiesLittleSnugglers_Featured

My good friend has an adorable baby boy, and they’ve used Huggies® from the get-go. I knew they’d be glad to get some new Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers to help keep their newborn’s perfect skin clean and healthy. Since I can remember how quickly babies go through diapers, I went to Sam’s Club to get a big box (204!) that should last them a while.

Huggies_Hug

Little Snugglers have a GentleAbsorb Liner with a tiny, soft pillows that provide a cushiony layer of protection between your baby’s skin and the mess, and a color-changing wetness indicator to let you know when your baby’s diaper is ready to be changed. There’s a softer outer cover that’s breathable, and an improved pocketed waistband that keeps all the mess where you want it and helps you avoid blowouts!

HuggiesLittleSnugglers_Baby

Huggies also has Natural Care Wipes that provide a gentle clean for your baby’s naturally perfect skin. Huggies Natural Care® Wipes with TripleClean Layers are thick enough to handle any mess, with a texture that’s soft against your baby’s skin. They have triple clean layers, they’re hypoallergenic, fragrance, and alcohol free, with a touch of aloe and Vitamin E.

Check out this great deal! Buy any two Little Snugglers diapers and/or Natural Care wipes and get a $10 Sam’s Club e-gift card by following these instructions: Buy any two packages of Little Snugglers diapers and/or Natural Care wipes between 5/9/16-6/30/16, snap a photo of your receipt and email/text it to Huggies@ by 7/15/16. You will receive a code and instructions within minutes to get your $10 Sam’s Club e-gift card. You will also get $3 in instant savings off Huggies Diapers at Sam’s Club from 5/11-6/4!

 

Give Your Child a SmartStart With Schwinn

Schwinn_Featured


This post is sponsored by Lunchbox but all opinions are my own.

I can still remember – vividly – the day I first learned to ride my bike without training wheels. I must have ridden up and down our driveway 20 times! And two years ago I got to encounter that magical moment in our oldest son’s life. It took some time, but once he’d figured it out he was so proud.

Now our middle son, C, is 7, and he has been wanting to learn to ride his bike without training wheels for months. He’s nervous, though, and has been putting it off. We’ve been trying to think of everything we can do to make learning to ride a bike as easy of a process as possible – and that’s where the Schwinn SmartStart bikes come in. Here’s why I love SmartStart bikes for new riders:

  • 16” wheel size – classic learn to ride size.
  • Easier to learn to ride-better balance
  • Safer because less wobble
  • Light-weight for stability
  • The seat is shaped and sized to fit a child
  • When a SmartStart seat is raised to fit a growing child, the distance from the seat to the handle bars increases. This increases the reach distance and will allow the bike to grow with them
  • The grips are smaller for smaller hands
  • The geometry matches the pedal width to a child’s hip width
  • Like all Schwinn bikes, SmartStart bikes have a limited lifetime warranty for as long as you own the bike

We went to Toys R Us to pick up the bike:

ToysRUs

C-Bike-TRU

C was super excited to try out his new bike. We got the Schwinn Burnout 16 Inch bike and he thought the colors were, and I quote, “awesome!”

C-Bike_Standing

Continue Reading…

Teaching Healthy Sun Care Habits – #MimicMommy

NeutrogenaSunscreen_Featured

This post was sponsored by Neutrogena as part of an influencer activation for The Motherhood. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review. All opinions are honest and are my own.

It may just be May, but it’s basically been summer in Texas for weeks now. With the abundant sunshine comes lots of time outside, whether it’s in our yard, on a walk around the neighborhood, at baseball practice or one of the many other places we end up.

Being outside and enjoying sunny days is great, but it also means we need to take precautions to protect our skin – and especially our kiddos’ skin! Did you know that despite all we know about sun protection, skin cancer continues to be a health epidemic in the U.S.?  On average, more than 350 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every hour – even though skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers.

We talk to our kids about the importance of sunscreen, but the best way to really get them to buy in to sunscreen is by example. Studies show that kids are more likely to adopt healthy habits, like applying sunscreen, if they see their moms applying it on themselves. Sparking this simple, healthy behavior change early on may help reduce the likelihood of developing skin cancer later in life.

I am completely committed to instilling safe sun behaviors in the next generation of children, so I always make sure my kids see me applying sunscreen on myself first to set the right example. I can remember having a couple of painful sunburns as a kid, and I don’t want them to have to go through that – both because of the pain and because of the long-term damage it can inflict upon their skin.

We went to the Texas Rangers game (the craaaazy one with the punch) – and with all the antics going on, we ended up being out in the sun for almost 4 hours. We used our Neutrogena sunscreen to protect our skin and keep us from getting sunburned while we rooted for the Rangers!

J_Sunscreen

C_Sunscreen

Because of how important I think skin health is, I’ve partnered up with Neutrogena, the #1 Dermatologist Recommended skincare brand, to help spread the word about teaching our children skin protection – and in particular, being an example for kids with our own sunscreen usage.

Neutrogena has a variety of sunscreen options, and it’s great for our family. I love the UltraSheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen. It has a high SPF, and it’s so lightweight – not heavy and greasy like so many sunscreens! The kids love the CoolDry Sport because it’s so easy for them to apply (note – if you let your kids do their own sunscreen, closely supervise to make sure they get good coverage!) and this summer I know we’ll adore having the Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray while we’re at the beach.

Cal_Sunscreen

My sister-in-law loves the Pure & Free Baby sunscreen for my nephew – so we’re all covered… literally!

Head over to Neutrogena Choose Skin Health for more information – and check out Neutrogena’s FacebookTwitter and Instagram for more skin health care tips.

Now it’s your turn to show how you #ChooseSkinHealth by getting your kids to #MimicMommy! Three lucky winners will receive a set of Neutrogena sunscreens for the whole family!

For Moms:
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 100+
Neutrogena CoolDry Sport Sunscreen Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 50+

For Kids:
Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 60+
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 70+

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Share a Coke and a Song – and a Gift – With Coca-Cola!

ShareASong-GiftBasket-Featured

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone.  #SongsToShare  #CollectiveBias

With Father’s Day coming up soon, I’m already thinking about gift ideas. My husband is an amazing gift giver, and gifts are my love language, so I’m all about finding the perfect gift.

In that spirit, I thought it’d be fun to create a great gift basket that any music lover would love. Coca-Cola™ was my inspiration with their Share a Song bottles and cans, so I headed to Brookshire’s to pick up some bottles. Shopping at Brookshire’s is great because of their Thank You Card reward program. You can save on fuel or groceries just by shopping with a registered card – every dollar earns one yourpoint. You can save 10¢ per gallon on fuel for every 100 yourpoints or get 5% off on groceries for every 500 yourpoints. Gotta love that!

Brookshires-Front

CokeProducts-InStore

ShareASong-Collage

There were a lot of different types to pick from, but I decided to go with the glass bottles with the lyric “A moment like this.” I think it’s a great snippet to remind us to celebrate the moment!  To continue the music theme I got some fun red headphones and some rock star-worthy shades.

Coke-Box

To complete the package I made some fun coasters with packaging from the Diet Coke®! I got some plain white tiles at the craft store, cut out shapes from the packaging (making sure to highlight the fun song quote!) and decoupaged the pieces on to the tiles. Didn’t they turn out great? I love the lyric “Celebrate the good times, come on!” and think it’s perfect for any celebration – be it Father’s Day, a birthday, or even just to celebrate someone for being the amazing person they are.

Coasters-On-Table

FeltBack-Coaster

CoasterCloseUp

Download the Shazam App, available on iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android and other devices to get your Coca-Cola Share a Song. What song lyric would you want on your bottle of Coca-Cola or Diet Coke?