November – 2013 – Frugal Novice
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November 2013

Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Bring Holiday Cheer with Build-a-Bear {Giveaway!}


Note: We received a Santa from Build a Bear. We were not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are our own.

I think every child knows the excitement that comes along with seeing this box:


Everyone knows something good will be inside! Our two older kids both love going to Build-a-Bear – we have quite a few creations in our house, including a crocodile Brian and I made for J when he was just a baby (complete with our voice recording and all!).

Build-a-Bear has some great holiday offerings to bring some cheer to your kids and your home – we got a visit from Santa, and he’s pretty adorable, if I do say so myself!


There are other choices for your family to pick from (or what I’d really like to do would be collect them all for a fun display that the kids can play with too!).



Make sure to connect with Build-A-Bear on Facebook and Twitter! And of course, be sure and enter our giveaway below, for a $25 Bear Buck$ gift card:
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Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Zutano Baby Clothes {Giveaway}


Note: We received an outfit from Zutano. We were not compensated monetarily for our post. All opinions are honest and our own.


I don’t know if any of you saw my Zutano post from last year, but we absolutely adored the clothes we got for baby E. We got a TON of compliments on them, and I was honestly sad when she outgrew the clothes! Check out my little elf from December 2012:


If you want to see the other things we reviewed last year, you can see that post here. On to this year, though – we got another absolutely adorable set that is fun and bright, and just perfect. I love that Zutano clothes wear great individually as stand-alone pieces, but also work together to give you something  really great. Check out E’s outfit:


The hoodie’s floral print with the striped dress and pink leggings is just SO cute, isn’t it? AND the hoodie is – wait for it – reversible!! It’s a solid hot pink on the inside, so we can always have her wear it reversed for a completely different look. We also got a great hat that she’s received compliments on already:


Little miss strawberry! This hat is fun and functional, and makes a great addition to the outfit.

Beyond the clothes being really cute, my truly favorite thing about them is how well-made they are. We’ve bought clothes from other retailers that start falling apart after a wear or two, but Zutano clothes stand the test of time. The little elf sleeper from last year got worn a TON and looked as good as new when she outgrew it.

Have you ever tried Zutano clothes? If not, you should! Check out their site and also make sure to connect with them on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest! And be sure and enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a $75 gift card to Zutano!
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Three Tips to Easily and Cheaply Transform Your Table for the Holidays

Note: We received chair covers to facilitate this review. We were not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and our own.

When you have three small children like we do, you keep things pretty simple in the decor department. We can’t use tablecloths very often because we just know there’s going to be an attempt to pull it off the table – and it won’t end well. We normally have Legos scattered around the table and our chairs are pretty simple:




When the holidays come along, I like for things to feel special. It can be hard to figure out a way to add an extra element to really dress things up, but here are a few tips to transform your dining space for the holidays:

1. Use slipcovers on your chairs. We used Sure Fit slipcovers and chair sashes, and it was literally a 10-minute transformation to make our table feel like something elegant and special. You saw our table above – check out the after pictures:







The slipcovers unify the look of the chairs and soften them – and the big green bows are really a festive touch! Perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas alike.

2. Use items from nature. For Thanksgiving, gather fall leaves and put them in the bottom of a hurricane vase, then set a fall-colored candle on top. Or get the kids in on the fun and let them glue leaves to a long strip of computer paper taped together to make a nature-inspired runner. Acorns make another great fall decor item! And of course pinecones are perfect for Christmas. You can also find smaller fallen tree branches and paint them white for a nice centerpiece option.

3. Make your table interactive. Put out notecards and pens for people to write what they’re thankful for – or cover your table with butcher’s paper and let people write right on the tablecloth! Kids and adults alike will love doodling and drawing during the meal, and maybe even getting in a friendly game or two of tic tac toe.

How do you make your table festive for the holidays?

Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Cutco {Giveaway}


Note: We received a Cutco set. We were not compensated monetarily for this post and all opinions are honest and are our own.



Brian and I love to cook, and we learned pretty early on that some of the most important tools to have in the kitchen are good knives. You’ll make better cuts, you’ll have a better handle on things, and you’ll be safer in the kitchen. Many of our knives are ones that we received as wedding gifts, and over the years they don’t cut quite as well as they used to. So I was pretty thrilled when we received the Shear Utility Set from Cutco.



The shears are awesome. There’s a perfect spot to rest your index finger which gives you stability and strength when you’re cutting. They’re a nice weight, and they cut sooooo smoothly and easily! Another great feature is that the shears come apart for washing, so you can be assured that they’ll really get clean.



The trimmer knife is great, too. You can see how the blade is forged and runs through the length of the handle. But my favorite part of this knife is how it’s shaped to perfectly fit within your palm. It is the most comfortable knife to cut with I’ve ever used.



Cutco knives are high quality, are extremely sharp, and are made in America. They also come with the Forever Guarantee:


Keep up with Cutco on FacebookPinterestTwitterYouTubeGoogle+


Now you have the chance to try out Cutco knives for yourself – enter this giveaway for your chance to win the Cook’s Combo, which includes a petite chef knife and a trimmer knife.



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Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Aden + Anais Dream Blanket


Note: We received a blanket. We were not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are our own.


love aden + anais blankets. We used their swaddling blankets almost exclusively with E – the muslin is light and breathable, with great prints, but it still keeps babies snug and warm. They’re huge, too, which makes swaddling a breeze! Here’s one of the blankets we had for E:



aden + anais blankets aren’t just for babies, though. They have Dream Blankets that are perfect for kids (or, let’s be honest, moms who snag said blankets to snuggle on the couch) and would make a great gift! In our house, our 4-year-old C will claim the Dream Blanket.He loves to snuggle and this will be perfect for him! The organic dream blanket is made with four layers of fully certified organic cotton that is grown and manufactured in an environmentally responsible way.



The print on this blanket is great – and neutral, so it’s perfect for a boy or a girl. It’s 47″ square and is a great size to cover up with or snuggle with. It is really nice and thick, but the breathable organic muslin keeps it from feeling too heavy.


Make sure to connect with aden+anais on their social media channels. You can find them on Facebook and TwitterYou’ll want to be aware of all their great products for gift ideas, both for the holidays and beyond. Their swaddling blankets are my favorite shower gift to give.

Wouldn’t you like a Dream Blanket of your own? Well, be sure to enter for your chance to win!

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Holiday Gift Guide: Graco Blossom Seating System {Giveaway}


Note: We received a Blossom high chair. We were not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are our own.



We have been HUGE Graco fans since J was born back in 2007. We had a Graco SnugRide car seat, the stroller that went with the travel system, the play yard,  the swing, and the high chair… and we loved every single item. With each of our other two kids we’ve brought them home in the hospital in a Graco SnugRide because it’s a seat – and brand – we trust with our babies.

Because of our longstanding history with Graco, I’m never surprised when I hear about another amazing product they’ve created. Of course it’s amazing – it’s Graco. You can see the research that’s put into both the functionality and quality of everything they’ve produced. So I was impressed, but not surprised, when we got to see the Blossom 4-in-1 Seating System up close and personal.



This isn’t just a high chair. It’s a modular 4-in-1 system designed to adjust to children’s seating needs- and to accommodate more than one child in your growing family. It transforms seamlessly from an extremely functional highchair to an infant feeding booster, a toddler booster, and finally a youth chair. Should your family suddenly grow, it can even accommodate a baby and a toddler at the table all at once. The 6-position height adjustment assures a front row seat for baby at any family table. And the 3-position removable footrest and 3-position one-hand reclining seat will ensure your growing child stays comfortable at mealtime.

Here are some other features of the Blossom:

  • 4-in-1 modular seating system adjusts to your growing child’s seating needs
  • The innovative design allows you to seat two children simultaneously
  • 6-position height adjustment helps position baby at any table
  • Two front over-molded wheels with two locking rear castors for enhanced mobility
  • 3-positon adjustable footrest helps keep your child comfy as he grows
  • Infant head and body support help keep baby comfortably positioned
  • One-hand, 3-position adjustable reclining seat properly positions baby for feeding
  • Removable tray with dishwasher-safe, pull-out insert for hassle-free clean ups
  • Removable seat back insert helps position your growing child at the table

This seat is incredibly well-made, is easy to assemble, and is the ultimate in versatility. It’s something we can use with E as a stand-alone high chair or as a booster that straps in to a chair; or if our good friends with a baby come over, we can seat both E and our friends’ baby too. I also love the fact that the seat is largely neutral with a printed inset that adds subtle style.



Pretty great, right? And it’s even greater that I get to give one of these away… and even greater still that there are TWO chances to win! One winner will get the Blossom Seating System, and one will get the Graco Smart Seat car seat!


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Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Mamas & Papas {Giveaway}




Note: We received product samples. We were not compensated monetarily for our review, and all opinions are honest and are our own.

Mamas & Papas is a company that began in Great Britain 30 years ago, and now thankfully their products are available in the United States as well! From clothes to gear to accessories and more, they have vibrant, colorful, thoughtful products that are well-made to boot. We have their Magic Galaxy mobile in E’s crib and it is beyond amazing – we get comments on it anytime someone sees it. It’s not only pretty, it’s also interactive and fun for E.

We got to check out two great gift ideas – the Gingerbread knit blanket and the Happy Hen toy.



adore this blanket. It’s a solid knit that I know will stand the test of time (and lots of snuggling from E). The colors are bright and the striped pattern gives it a modern feel. This is a blanket you’ll use, but that’s also great to have out on display in your nursery because it’s just that great-looking.



The happy hen toy cracks me up. You can’t play with this and not smile. It’s adorable, sure… but the magic happens when you turn it on. The hen yodels a cheery tune and vibrates. The kids all think it’s great! Beyond that it has different textures in the wings so it’s a tactile toy as well. So fun, and a perfect stocking stuffer!

I’d feel bad telling you all about these great gift ideas and not giving you a chance to have them for yourself, so why not have a giveaway? The winner will get a blanket (Gingerbread or Once Upon a Time) and the Happy Hen toy.

Oh, and be sure you’re keeping up with Mamas & Papas on social media. They’re a pretty great company – you’ll want to know what they’re up to.

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Reset Reality & Support Those Overcoming Opioid Addiction

Note: I participated in a campaign on behalf of  Mom Central Consulting for Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.



Opioid dependence, which can be opioid prescription painkiller addiction, or heroin addiction, is a chronic disease that affects more and more Americans every year. I believe people see painkillers as less dangerous, so their guard is down and it’s easier to gradually slip down the slope into addiction. After a while prescription painkillers can actually alter the brain chemistry by “resetting” the brain. They make a person feel (physically and psychologically) like they need the opioid prescription painkillers just to get through the day. I’d actually heard about how easy it is to get addicted to painkillers (Matthew Perry’s story was one that stood out to me) so when my kids were born I used ibuprofen for pain management rather than opting in to some heavier painkillers – I was probably being overcautious, but medicine has always really affected me and I didn’t want to take the risk.

Reset Reality is a public health initiative to help spread awareness about the prevalence of opioid painkiller addiction in the U.S. It shares the science and treatment of this addiction, and it encourages those living with prescription painkiller addiction to step back, reflect, and hit the “reset” button by working with a healthcare professional. This way they can work on finding a new “reality” without the need for the painkillers. is a valuable online resource that provides a lot of information and tools to learn about opioid dependence, including a symptom-screener and a way to find a doctor certified to treat the addiction. The site also shares “Words of Reality”  – stories of people who have been addicted and have overcome their addictions. I read Cheryl’s story about how she decided to be the mother her son needed and reset her reality – it was very touching to see how that broke through the wall and got her to take a step toward recovery.

While on the site I discovered a list of symptoms, which was really helpful for me. With some drugs you hear about people having bizarre, obvious symptoms, and the ones for painkiller addiction are slightly more subtle so it’s good know what to be on the lookout for.


I hope you’ll go take a look at the ResetReality site and keep an eye out for any loved ones who might be dealing with opioid painkiller addiction. Let’s spread the word that there IS help out there!

Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Pediped Shoes {Giveaway}


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

I have always loved shoes, so it comes as no surprise that I have a blast buying shoes for E. Of course, with her little feet still growing, and with her in the early walking stage, it’s very important to me that she has shoes that look good AND are good for her feet. Pediped is the perfect solution. Their shoes are great (I’d seriously wear many of the designs if they made them in grown-up sizes) and the soles are flexible, allowing little feet to move like they should.

We got two pairs of shoes, and let me tell you, it was hard narrowing down which pairs to get. Well, I lie. One pair jumped out to me right away:


Aren’t these silver mary janes perfect? They’re festive and neutral and I know E will get a lot of use out of them.

Of course, a girl needs some casual wear too so I looked for some athletic shoes for her as well. They have so many cute sporty shoes that it took me a while to finally decide on these:



Wouldn’t you wear those? I think they’re great! But of course, Pediped is more than just style. Take a look at the soles of the shoes:




The mary janes have a soft sole, and the tennis shoes have a flex zone that allows E’s toes and arch to move naturally while she’s walking, unlike many stiff-soled infant shoes.

Keep up with Pediped on social media: facebook  |  twitter   |  instagram  |  youtube  |  pinterest

Your little one needs some Pediped shoes too, right? Well then, be sure and enter this giveaway – you’ll get to pick a pair if you win!

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Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Give Your Kids Some Santa Style with Gymboree {Giveaway}


Note: We received a gift card to facilitate our review. All opinions are honest and are our own.


We love Gymboree for our kids (and yes, I’ve gotta admit, most of all for our daughter. Shopping for girls IS more fun!) so I had a blast picking out some holiday items for them. A HUGE tradition for us is to give the kids new Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve. They wear them that night and then have cute PJs for Christmas morning! While they’re still young enough to go with it, I like to have them coordinate, and I found some absolutely ADORABLE pajamas at Gymboree.


Aren’t they great? J & C’s are the ones on the left, and E’s set has a little bow on the antlers (her pants are also striped differently). LOVE them! I was actually really torn because they had quite a few great sets of PJs that coordinate. These have slippers that go with them, and I am having to use all my willpower not to order those too!

Keeping in the Christmas vein, I also got the boys each a shirt for school. These are warm and cozy and will be great for them to wear starting next week and all through the rest of this semester. Gymboree does a great job of having really cute things for little ones and then cool designs for the older kids, too.


Make sure to keep up with Gymboree on Facebook and Twitter!

I know you love Gymboree as much as I do, so I’m sure you’ll be excited about this next part – a giveaway for a $75 gift card to Gymboree!

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Tiny Prints Giveaway | Holiday Gift Guide 2013


Note: I will receive Tiny Prints holiday cards to facilitate my review. I was not compensated monetarily for this post, and all opinions are honest and are my own! 




Have you started thinking about your holiday cards yet? It’s about that time, and we’re planning to take photos of the kids this weekend for our card. It’s nice for me to know that once we get that elusive picture taken (if you’ve ever tried to get three young children to even look at the camera together, let alone smile simultaneously, you know what I mean) the process will be an easy one, thanks to Tiny Prints.

I’ve been a huge fan of Tiny Prints for a long time. Their designs all feel special and detailed and high-end. One year we sent out a Tiny Prints card that people could hang from their tree, and I can’t even tell you how many comments we got about that card!

This year Tiny Prints is offering premium trims on some of their cards – you can see some examples here on their chic collection. One of my favorite designs that I’m leaning toward is this one, with the ticket trim:


The back is really fun, too:


Here’s a card with the bracket trim, which I also love (the back on this one is pretty spectacular, too – I think printed backs really make a card nicer than plain white, don’t you?):




Here’s the scalloped trim:


And here’s a card with the rounded corners:


They’re all pretty great, right? I like how the text is laid out (I’m a sucker for good typography) but I also love that the photos are the real focal points of these designs. You can’t really go wrong with a Tiny Prints card! I’ll do a follow-up post soon and let you see what our cards end up looking like, but in the meantime, how about a lovely Tiny Prints giveaway to start off this gift guide on the right foot?

Tiny Prints doesn’t only provide cards and stationery – they also have a huge variety of customizable gift items, such as these iPhone cases:


And guess what? If you win this giveaway, you’ll get your own personalized iPhone case from Tiny Prints (or you can even use it as a gift for someone special on your list)! Since we’re feeling the Tiny Prints love right now, be sure you keep up with them on their social media channels, too!

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And be sure and check out Being MVP‘s & Courtney’s Sweets Tiny Prints posts while you’re at it – they’ve picked out some great card designs too!

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Neighborhood Toy Store Day 2013 – Shop Locally & Support Your Community!

Note: We received toys that you can find at a local toy store to help get us excited about Neighborhood Toy Store Day! We were not compensated monetarily, and all opinions are honest and are our own.



We love shopping locally and supporting our community, and this Saturday – November 9th – is the 4th annual Neighborhood Toy Store Day! Be sure and visit your local toy store and get a head start on your holiday shopping. You’ll find unique items and personalized customer service that you just can’t get in the big-box stores. Our local toy store is awesome and has fun events, like free photos with a real bunny for Easter. They have high-quality items and our kids can actually play with things to see if they really like them (and we can test the toys for durability – something you can’t do when the toy is still in the box!).

For Neighborhood Toy Store Day, participating local stores will host in-store events for families (such as activities, craft projects, live performances and/or special discounts) to help kick off the holiday shopping season. This event is coordinated by the non-profit organization ASTRA, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association. To find a local Neighborhood Toy Store Day event near you, visit the website Be sure and keep up with them on Facebook, too!

To celebrate the fun of shopping for toys at the local toy store, ASTRA has launched the first ever “I Heart My Neighborhood Toy Store” sweepstakes!  Through November 8, 2013 log onto and enter to win the following:

  • A grand prize vacation package to select all inclusive Hard Rock Hotels in Mexico and the Dominican Republic courtesy of Thomas & Friends™
  • Featured prizes including gift baskets or gift certificates from Kidoozie, earlyyears, Calico Critters and Playmobil (retail value: $250 per prize)
  • A gift basket of assorted Best Toys for Kids winning products from ASTRA (retail value: $250)