October – 2012 – Frugal Novice
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October 2012

Make Over Your Space in an Instant With Walls 360 (Great Gift Idea, Too!)

If you’re looking for a statement piece to have in your house, look no further than Walls 360. We got a chance to review the Plants vs. Zombies graphics – if you’re a fan of the game like my husband is, you’ll really get a kick out of these:

They have a ton of Halloween wall graphics available, which allows you to decorate in a non-permanent way. I think this is perfect because you can really set the tone for a fun Halloween party, or just something for your kids to enjoy, and then you can peel them off and store them away until next year.

They have Christmas items, too. I think this one is really nice:

They even have Tetris graphics, which I know Brian would love to have – how cool would these be in a play room or video game room?

These would make a really fun gift, especially for that person who already has everything! Be sure and check out Walls 360 for gifts this holiday season!

Note: We received some Plants vs. Zombies wall graphics to facilitate this post. I was not compensated monetarily. All opinions are honest and are our own.

National Neighborhood Toy Store Day is Coming Soon!

I think most of us would say we take pride in our communities and want them to succeed. There are a lot of ways to do so, but one great way (especially with Holiday shopping coming up) is to participate in the third annual  National Neighborhood Toy Store Day November 10.

It makes sense financially to shop at your local toy store – Did you know that for each dollar you spend at independent businesses in your community, three or more times as much typically goes back into the local economy compared to a dollar spent at a chain store?

Of course, there are benefits for you to shop at a local toy store as well. Local stores typically have a small staff. This means that employees get to know their customers, and as a consumer you get more personalized service than you ever would at a “big box” retailer. You’ll also find quality merchandise at local stores – owners hand-pick items they think are worthwhile, as opposed to a broad range of toys being crammed into the shelves at large chain stores.

We received some toys to try out that are ones you can find at many local toy stores. I could tell right off the bat that these were high-quality toys. Here are a couple of the items we got:

This classic Brio figure 8 set is high-quality and will stand the test of time (and wear and tear from your preschooler).

LOVE this science kit! It combines fun with learning, and gets kids excited about science at an early age. Both the train set and the science kit encourage creative play, and will really engage your kids’ imaginations.

Those are just small glimpses of the kind of toys you’ll find at your neighborhood toy store – I hope you’ll stop in and check out all your local store has to offer on the Neighborhood Toy Store Day November 10! And of course keep up with all the latest news – LikeThe WooHoo Factor on Facebook and follow The WooHoo Factor on Twitter!

Note: I received samples in exchange for this post. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Pineapple Upside-Down Muffins Recipe


Love pineapple as much as we do? You don’t have to wait to enjoy it just in the summer – you can enjoy it in the fall and winter, too! You could do something as simple as arrange pineapple wedges to look like a Christmas tree on a platter, but you can also find all sorts of great recipes to use pineapple in for fun holiday treats. You can even get a coupon for 50 cents off Del Monte pineapple! Just Like Del Monte on Facebook and click on the “Save” tab to get started! (Limit one per person. While supplies last.)

I’ve got a delicious recipe for some muffins that would be wonderful to take to coworkers, neighbors, or even to enjoy with your family, and I thought I’d share it with you. I found it on Del Monte’s site, fruits.com. Be sure and check out fruits.com for more great recipe ideas!

Pineapple Upside-Down Muffins

Created by EatingWell



  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • 1 10-ounce can pineapple slices


  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice or orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple (not drained)
  • 1 cup grated carrot (1 large)
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup raisins, preferably baking raisins (see Ingredient note)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Serving Size: 12


Glistening like sticky buns, these unusual muffins are packed with wholesome ingredients–vegetables, fruit and whole grains–so you can feel good about serving them to your family. If you prefer to make simple carrot muffins for lunchboxes or breakfasts-on-the-go, omit the topping; sprinkle 2 tablespoons chopped nuts over the muffins before baking, if desired.

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. To prepare topping: Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar into each muffin cup. Sprinkle nuts, if using, over the sugar. Stack pineapple slices and cut into 6 wedges. Place 2 wedges in each muffin cup.
  3. To prepare muffins: Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in oil, juice and vanilla. Stir in crushed pineapple. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add the wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Stir in carrot, oats, raisins and nuts, if using. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups (they’ll be quite full).
  5. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown and firm to the touch, 15 to 25 minutes. Immediately loosen edges and turn muffins out onto a baking sheet. Restore any stray pineapple pieces and nuts. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve upside-down, either warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Tips & Notes:

  1. Ingredient Note: Baking raisins, moister than regular ones, ensure a better texture. To substitute regular raisins, plump them first: soak in boiling water for 10 minutes; drain well.

Join me for a Cook-Along! {Giveaway}


As I’ve mentioned quite often before, we LOVE to cook and to involve the kids in the kitchen too. It’s a great time for quality family fun, it’s hands-on and creative, and they can even learn a little math (counting the number of cups of an ingredient, for example) and science (like how yeast works) along the way!

The boys love to eat pizza, but it had been a while since we’d made one, and I thought it’d be great to involve them in the process. We even added another touch of fun by making our pizza Halloween-themed.

To start, we got the Chef Boyardee pizza kit.

The boys helped me make the pizza dough – they each had to have a turn stirring:

Just a note – you can very easily incorporate extra flavors into the dough! I added some Italian seasoning, but you could add garlic powder, red pepper flakes, or whatever else you really like.

Now, earlier I mentioned we made our pizza Halloween-themed. How, you ask?

Pepperoni bats! We bought large pepperoni from our grocery store. Then Brian folded each one in half and cut out half of a bat shape, and voila! J helped us make the scene on our pizza (I cut out a little crescent moon, too).

What do you think?

I ended up taking the leftover pepperoni pieces from our bats and cutting them up into very small pieces to scatter around the bats. That way we didn’t waste any pepperoni, and we decided those were stars in the night sky. :)

Speaking of cooking, be sure and join me and some of my blogging buddies for a fun event tomorrow to really get you in the mood for fun in the kitchen! You’ll even get to see me and my five-year-old J working on another great Chef Boyardee recipe. Here are the details:

What: A virtual Cook-Along called Everyday Fun, part of The Little Chefs Project series on The Motherhood. 

The Little Chefs Project series consists of live chats called Cook-Alongs taking place every Thursday at 2 p.m. ET (1 p.m. Central for all you fellow Texans out there!) until November 15, and each Cook-Along covers a different topic around cooking with kids. Everyday Fun addresses how you and your kids can create fun, lasting memories in the kitchen around events like sleepovers or holidays, or around everyday events like family dinners.

When: Thursday, October 25, at 2 p.m. ET.  It will last 30 minutes.

Where: The Motherhood – This is the link to the page where the class will be held!

About the class: 
From weekend breakfast rituals to holidays like Halloween, you can find any occasion to cook up some everyday fun with your kids. Grab a can of Chef Boyardee and join in for further inspiration and ideas for getting started.

To participate, just click the link above, log into The Motherhood using your member ID (if you don’t have one, it’s easy and free to sign up), and chat away in the text-based comments. We’ll also have a video feed running during the half-hour Cook-Along, so you’re welcome to show up simply to watch if you’d like!

The Cook-Along is sponsored by Chef Boyardee, and it is hosted by The Motherhood.  You can visit Chef Boyardee online at http://www.chefboyardee.com/ or on Facebook.

Like I mentioned, I’ll be there with several other bloggers to co-host the class, and I hope you’ll join us!  The fabulous people who will be co-hosting with me are:

Brett, This Mama Loves Her Bargains  
Carrie, Making Lemonade 
Corine, Complicated Mama 
Kim, Shop With Me Mama 
Michelle, Ace and Friends Co.  
Roxanne, Children Teaching Mama

As if I haven’t already crammed enough fun in this post, I’ve also got a great GIVEAWAY for you!

One winner will get their own Chef Boyardee prize pack, with tons of great things included! Check out what all you’ll get:

  • Kids’ kitchen measure and prep kit
  • Kids’ recipe box
  • Scrapbook album
  • 2 Chef Boyardee chef hats
  • Chef Boyardee adult apron
  • Chef Boyardee child apron
  • Chef Boyardee pizza kit
  • Time capsule
  • 2 coupons for free Chef Boyardee Beefaroni
  • 5 Chef Boyardee recipe cards

This contest is open to all U.S. residents aged 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Wednesday, November 14. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

Note: I am participating in the Chef Boyardee Little Chefs program with The Motherhood. I have been compensated for my time.  All thoughts and opinions are honest and are my own.

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Little Chefs: Big Fun! Check out Great New eBook from Chef Boyardee

Brian and I love to cook together – it’s always been something we’ve enjoyed, and now that the boys are getting old enough we love getting them involved in the kitchen too. So when I was offered the chance to be a part of the Chef Boyardee Little Chefs eBook, I knew we’d be a perfect fit!

My theme was Everyday Fun, and since it’s almost Halloween we had fun making “Boo Breakfast” pancakes and writing about ways to have fun for holidays and year-round. Here are some of our pancakes (this pic didn’t make it into the book):

And here are the boys ready to help me with ingredients (I think they did a LOT of taste-testing with the candy corn and chocolate chips!):

Be sure and check out our section of the book – you’ll even see a photo of our five-year-old, J, putting some Reddi-Whip on his pancakes.  But beyond our contribution you’ll find all sorts of fun tips, recipes, and ideas! So, be sure and take a look at the book and prepared to get inspired!

Note: I am participating in the Chef Boyardee Little Chefs program with The Motherhood. I have been compensated for my time.  All thoughts and opinions are honest and are my own.

Go Bananas this Halloween with Del Monte

Can you believe it’s already mid-October? Our boys are so excited and always want to look at Halloween decor, costumes and candy whenever we’re at the store. Our boys both want to be superheroes this year, which is not surprising considering they’re always pretending to be fighting bad guys. :)

Not sure what you’re going to be this Halloween? How about a Del Monte Fresh Produce Banana? Del Monte Fresh Produce is randomly giving away 200 banana costumes to fans on its Facebook page. Enter to win today by clicking on the Del Monte Fresh Produce Facebook tab that says “Costume Giveaway” and complete a short entry form! This giveaway offer ends October 18th, so be sure and check it out now!

Turn this Halloween into an opportunity to teach your kids how to make healthy eating choices while still enjoying their treats. Here are a couple of tips:

  • Before heading out the door for Trick-or Treating, make sure your child has a filling and nutritious dinner or healthy snack, such as a peanut butter and banana sandwich, or a piece of fresh fruit. They will be less tempted to dig into their candy bag before they get home.
  • Limit the number of treats your child can have after each meal and set a good example. Don’t let your kids see mom or dad snacking on Halloween candy before dinner. Make sure they eat their fresh fruits and vegetables before digging into that candy stash.

Don’t forget to go to Del Monte’s Facebook page and enter to win your own banana costume today!


Brilliant Sky Toys & Books Provides a Delightful Shopping Experience

I think we’ve all been there: you’re out shopping for a child’s gift, and you’re faced with aisles of products and no clue about any of them. What are the benefits to each toy? Which one is right for the age you’re shopping for? It can be a really exhausting, frustrating experience.

Brilliant Sky Toys & Books has set out to do away with all the negatives and provide a pleasant, helpful, delightful shopping experience for its customers. Service with a smile is an old-school concept that has never lost its appeal and is appreciated by every customer who enters Brilliant Sky. The specialty toy store chain stretches from North Carolina to Colorado with 15 stores in towns like Des Moines, IA; Nashville, TN and Louisville, KY. A 16th store is about to open in Houston, TX. You can view a full list of their locations here.

You’ll not only find great, specialized customer service, you’ll also find quality, educational products that will be a unique gift kids will love – like this Boogie Board, a paperless drawing tool that is great for traveling, doodling,  games, lists, and more! This comes with a stylus, but can also work with the touch of a finger (how great is that for younger kids? – basically digital finger painting!). It’s pressure sensitive to create different  thicknesses-  just like a paper and pen. Our boys love to draw and I know they’ll get a big kick out of this.


So, when you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, you might just want to stop in one of Brilliant Sky’s locations. Personal Play Consultants will help you make the most informed and successful buying decision in the midst of selling several thousands of dolls, games, puzzles, crafts, books, dress-up, kites, plush, musical instruments and more. The end result is always the same: walking away with a toy that a child will cherish (and actually enjoying the shopping process!).

Note: We received a Boogie Board to facilitate this post – we were not compensated monetarily. All opinions are honest and my own.

Chug Away to Safari Fun With Chuggington {Giveaway}


It’s getting close to the holidays, and if you’re anything like us you’re on the hunt already for gift ideas, especially for your little ones. Chuggington has released two new track sets from TOMY just in time for gift-buying – Koko’s Safari Set, and Brewster’s Icy Escapade set.

As Chuggington Conductors, we got to try out the Koko’s Safari set. It’s a 38-piece wooden set that has elevated tracks, a 2-in-1 safari tree tunnel, and a door and a gate for trains to go through. It even makes jungle sounds, which adds a level of fun to it. It retails for $99.99 and is available exclusively at Toys R Us.

The boys were really excited when we arrived and couldn’t wait to open it. Trains in general are going to be exciting to them, but I think seeing the tree and the two levels of tracks on the box gave them an immediate idea of how fun this set would be.

Here it is all assembled:

One winner will get their own Chuggington Koko’s Safari Set! This contest is open to all U.S. residents aged 18+.Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Wednesday, November 7. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

Note: As Chuggington Conductors, we received a Koko’s Safari set to facilitate our review. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are my own.

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Updating Your Look Without Breaking the Bank – e.l.f. Cosmetics

As a mom to a newborn, it’s easy to slip into a rut of PJs and ponytails. E’s 5 weeks old now, so it’s about time I update my look, don’t you think? I got a new hair cut and then I realized it was time to update my makeup too for a completely fresh look. Of course, the costs of makeup can really limit how much I’m able to purchase, and we are definitely on a budget. I went to Target with the mission of updating my makeup look for just $20.

I wasn’t sure how much I’d be able to get, but then I came across the e.l.f. display. All of the #eyeslipsface items in white packaging are just $1 each, and the items with black packaging are either $3 or $6. When I saw these prices I realized how easy my mission was going to be! Check out my purchases:

I got eyeshadow, eyelid primer, two brushes, eyeliner, powder, and matte lip color. I’ve never tried eyelid primer before but I couldn’t pass it up at just $1! I think it’ll make a big difference in how my eyeshadow goes on. I got something else new but I’ll talk about that in just a minute. I love the eyeshadow I got, and the fact that I could pick four individual shades that are all great for me. If you want to see more photos of my purchases and the other e.l.f. products I looked at, check out my Google+ story!

I am meeting a friend for lunch tomorrow so it’s the perfect reason to change out of PJs and try out my new makeup! Of course, I couldn’t wait completely, so I did go ahead and try out the lip color.

I love it! I think it’s a pretty noticeable before and after, don’t you think?

One of my favorite finds was this kabuki brush – I’ve wanted one for a long time, because I’ve heard they really give you a smooth, airbrushed finish. Generally they can be pretty expensive, though, so I was really excited to find such a good deal on one! This brush combined with the sheer powder I got will really give me a polished look.

Keep up with e.l.f. on Facebook and Twitter, too!

Note: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and e.l.f.  All opinions are honest and my own. #CBias #SocialFabric 

Plan Ahead for Holiday Cards this Year with Shutterfly! {Giveaway}


I went to the store the other day and there, nestled among the Halloween costumes, was the start of Christmas decor! I can’t believe the holidays are right around the corner. We’ve still got a few months to go, but I know I want to get a jump start on shopping and other things so the actual holidays aren’t too busy.

Shutterfly has always been a go-to site for me to print photos and photo gifts (their photo coasters are a GREAT choice, if you’re looking for some gift or stocking stuffer ideas), but of course they’ve also got a big selection of holiday cards that we can easily add photos to. They also have special offers that make cards even more affordable.

This is one of my favorite Christmas Cards:

This one’s cute, too:

And here’s a really fun take on the standard holiday letter:

Aren’t these cards great? And trust me, these are just a few of the many amazing options to choose from. You’ll definitely want to take a look, because one of you is going to win $50 for your holiday cards from Shutterfly.com!

One winner will receive a code for $50 off your total order from Shutterfly.com (does not include shipping & cannot be combined with any other promos)!  This contest is open to all U.S. residents aged 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Monday, October 29. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

Note: This is a sponsored post, and Shutterfly is providing the giveaway. All opinions are honest and my own.

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Help Cancer Patients Look Good, Feel Better

If you’re looking for a way to make a difference, you’ll love the Look Good Feel Better program. It was founded more than 23 years ago, and has helped more than 1.2 million people across the U.S. and in 24 countries around the world regain confidence during cancer treatment by helping them to cope with the appearance side effects of cancer treatment. Workshops are FREE, available in all 50 states, and staffed by local expert volunteers that offer lessons in how to apply cosmetics and hair accessories that help address the changes in skin and hair loss that often accompany cancer treatment, as well as tips on wardrobe/styling to help mask weight changes, surgical alterations, and other changes.

Their mission statement is: “Look Good Feel Better is dedicated to improving the self-esteem and quality of life of people undergoing treatment for cancer. It is our aim to improve their self-image and appearance through complimentary group, individual, and self-help beauty sessions that create a sense of support, confidence, courage, and community.”

Look Good Feel Better is dedicated to changing the way people with cancer approach their disease, reminding them that they are beautiful inside AND out. The program helps women regain confidence some normalcy in a life that is by no means normal.

If you’d like to find out more about the program,  you can download a PDF with the Look Good Feel Better Overview.

Be sure and spread the word about this AMAZING program! I am a huge fan of offering comfort to those dealing with unimaginable circumstances.

#spon: I’m required to disclose a relationship between our site and LGFB . This could include the LGFB providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

Make Birth Announcements Special with Tiny Prints {Giveaway!}


As graphic designers, Brian and I designed our own announcement for the birth of our first son… but by the time our second child was born, we realized that, um, it’s hard to find time for things like that when you’ve got your hands full! This time around, with the birth of our third child, we were thrilled to have the ease of Tiny Prints for our birth announcements. My fellow blogger Amanda helped throw me an awesome shower, and she used Tiny Prints for the invitations, so I knew we’d want to use them for the announcements too.

I had fun looking through the designs (there are a TON to choose from) and picked three for Brian to look at too – then we narrowed it down to a design we both really liked. After that, it literally took me 10 minutes to upload the photos and order the announcements – so easy!

We went with the Soft Pink design – what do you think?

Whether you’re wanting to send birth announcements, invitations, or holiday cards (they’ve even got Halloween designs!) Tiny Prints has something you’ll probably love – and you can even have them mail your cards for you!

One winner will receive a code for a $65 credit to order your own custom birth announcements from TinyPrints.com and get you free standard shipping!  This contest is open to all U.S. residents aged 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Thursday, October 25. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

Note: We received a credit to TinyPrints.com to purchase announcements to facilitate our review.  All opinions are honest and are my own.
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