June – 2015 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

June 2015

Be Ready for Summer Backyard Bashes with Charmin


I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Charmin. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation. All content and thoughts are my own.

The Fourth of July is coming up next week and we’re planning to have a cookout! We’ll grill burgers and hot dogs, slice up a watermelon, and have some friends and family over for a classic summer celebration.

We love entertaining, and summer get-togethers are just the best. We can hang out in the back yard, let the kids run around and play, and enjoy cool treats to beat the heat. Fourth of July parties are always fun  to decorate for, because you can go all out with the red, white, and blue!

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Family Fun at the Thinkery in Austin, Texas


We received passes to the Thinkery to facilitate our review. All opinions are honest and our own! 

We’ve been looking forward to a family getaway ever since school got out. We went on a big vacation last year so we decided to keep it simple with a long weekend road trip this year; the first part of our trip took us to Austin.

We knew we wanted to try something different, and we wanted to look for something that would be a lot of fun for the whole family. We began researching kid-friendly Austin attractions, and when we visited the Thinkery’s website, we read this and knew it was a place we wanted to go:

The Thinkery is Austin’s home for “why” and “how.” A place where science and families play side by side. Where people connect with ideas by doing, making and experiencing. It’s a foundry for a new generation of innovators and creative problem solvers. And it’s a heck of a good time.

When you walk in the doors, you instantly get a vibe for how your experience will be. It’s not a quiet, sterile place. It’s vibrant, colorful, and full of happy noise. This chalkboard in the front part of the museum gave us an idea of all that was going on that day:


We decided to start out upstairs and work our way back down; the water room was our first stop. First of all, loved that they provide aprons and Crocs for kids and parents to wear, so you’re not wet the rest of the day! The water room was so fun for all three kids.


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Discover Boating for Family Summer Fun!

Kids having a blast on a boat!


Summer is here, and in Texas we’ve been getting record rainfall. That means lakes are at a great level and people are just itching to get out on the water with their families for some fun summer memories!

I have great memories associated with boating; I can vividly remember going up to visit family and going out on Lake Michigan. Everything seemed so serene, and the cool water breeze on our faces was perfect. I also remember going out to Lake Granbury in Granbury, Texas (go figure, right?) with friends and trying tubing for the first time. SO much fun! Brian has great boating memories, too – many of his include fishing, which is something I’ve actually not tried yet!

As our kids get older and we think about things we want to do with them, I know boating will be a part of our activities. There are just so many ways to have fun out on the water, and we want them to get to experience that! I think it would be a lot of fun to take a picnic out with us, do some fishing and just relax. I know some lakes have fireworks for the Fourth of July – how fun would that be, to watch fireworks from a boat?

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The Must-Have Pregnancy Tool – First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test


I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for First Response. I received product samples as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

I will never forget taking pregnancy tests for each of my three children. There were negative test results in between positives, of course, but oh. my. word. The thrill of seeing those two pink lines pop up – POSITIVE! – is just unlike anything else. You know your world is about to change in amazing ways, and you immediately have a need to protect. 

To tell my husband about being pregnant with our first child, I put my First Response test in a Converse shoe box with some baby Converse shoes, and told my hubby I’d gotten him a new pair of shoes. The look on his face when he opened the box was priceless!

Of course, if you’ve ever been in that phase of testing… and testing… and testing again, you know how agonizing the wait can be. One day feels like one year (and seriously, waiting for first morning urine – or “FMU” as all the books lovingly call it – rather than testing at night is so hard)!

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Skin Protection & Style for the Whole Family from Coolibar


We received a dress and swimsuit to facilitate this review. All opinions are honest and our own. We weren’t compensated monetarily for this post.

Brian and I are taking the kids to Schlitterbahn water park in a couple of weeks, and I’m already in planning mode. The kids are all set for swim attire and clothes, but Brian really needed a new swimsuit. The one he had was over 10 years old, so it was about time for it to be replaced.

Thankfully we learned about Coolibar – their mission is to develop superior sun protective products that allow people to enjoy life in the sun. They design, manufacture and market a range of quality sun protection products including sun protective clothes, SPF clothing, sun hats, sun protection swimwear, sunglasses, umbrellas, sunscreens and sunscreen.

Brian and I both experienced awful sunburns last summer. Like, miserable for a week sunburns. We had been careful about protecting the kids’ skin but hadn’t thought about ourselves! We knew we’d never make that mistake again, and getting Coolibar gear is one great step in guarding our skin against harmful UVA & UVB rays.

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Free Fourth of July Printable


I love to decorate for all the various holidays, and with Fourth of July right around the corner that means a lot of red, white, & blue.

One of my favorite low-cost methods of decorating is by displaying framed printables. Just buy some inexpensive frames (it’s especially fun to go thrifting or antiquing to find unique options) and paint them to fit with your aesthetic; then it’s so easy to swap out art as the various holidays roll around!

I love the idea of layering frames with different printables along a mantle or tabletop – you can easily achieve pops of color, and you can find all sorts of great quotes on Pinterest. Of course, since I’m a graphic designer I like to create my own printables so I can achieve the look – and convey the thoughts – that really fit our family.

I created a new Fourth of July printable recently and I’m sharing it with you today so you can add it to your patriotic decor. Just click here to start your free PDF download. This is sized for an 8×10 frame, but you can print it smaller for 5×7 if you prefer.

Enjoy, and Happy 4th!


Perfect Last-Minute Father’s Day Gift Ideas


Thanks to Groupon for this great partnered guest post! If you’re like me and will be on the hunt for last-minute Father’s Day gifts this weekend, you’ll love these suggestions:

Dads are so special and unique, and a man with amazing qualities deserves a special gift to highlight his Father’s Day. We want to honor the guy we think is so perfect, and who helped raise the perfect kids…but sometimes we’re not so perfect. If you slacked on getting a Father’s Day gift this year, don’t worry too much! Here are four great last-minute (and/or belated!) gifts available to let him know that you care (and won’t wait so late to shop again next year):


#1 Kiehl’s Starter Kit is a nice, manly personal hygiene kit. It consists of Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash, White Eagle Shave Cream, Facial Fuel Moisturizer and Ultimate Strength Hand Salve.

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Seven Strategy Games Perfect for Family Game Night


We love game night in our house. Like, love it.

Brian and I started collecting games when we were dating back in college. Rather than going out to dinner and a movie, we’d cook and use the money we would have spent on a board game.

As a result, we have a whole closet in our house dedicated to our collection, and we have a ton of games we really enjoy playing. Here are 7 strategy-based games we enjoy playing as a family that you should try for your next family game night:

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SPLENDA Summertime Sweet Life – Tea Party!


I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for the SPLENDA®Brand. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation. All opinions and reviews are my own.

I may be 33, but I still love a good tea party. So when I had the opportunity to try out a tea recipe using SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend, I knew it was the perfect excuse to have some friends and family join me for a tea party complete with a fun DIY. The SWEET SWAPS™ website has all sorts of great recipes, and one of the items on the site is a Hot Brown Sugar Tea recipe along with a fun decorate-your-own-mug DIY.


I especially wanted to treat for a tea party because we had just finished cleaning out the house and having a big garage sale, which is a lot of work. It was great to be active (and boy did we feel all that activity when we fell into our beds that night!), but I think it was perfect to celebrate being done with all the cleaning and work.


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Peanut Butter Cookie Squares


I’ve made peanut butter cookies more times than I can count. They’re one of Brian’s favorite cookies, and the rest of us happen to love them too, so they’re a logical go-to whenever I’m in the mood to bake. I had never really deviated from my standard recipe, until my peanut butter world was rocked with a brownie I tried. It was a peanut butter-chocolate brownie, and it was amazing. And it had hints of – wait for it – cinnamon. Totally unexpected, right? I knew then that I’d have to try incorporating cinnamon into my next batch of peanut butter cookies, and boy am I glad I did. The result is a thick, soft cookie with crispy edges, and a subtle warmth complimenting the salty flavor of the peanut butter.

These peanut butter cookie squares are quick to make because you don’t have to scoop out individual cookies – I just press the dough out into a cookie sheet with raised sides, just like this one. I wanted the cookies to still have a quaint touch, but since making marks with forks would be difficult to do en masse, I pulled out our rocker-style pizza cutter and gently scored the top of the dough, giving it a quilted effect.

Beautiful and delicious. Easy, too.

I shared this recipe on my food blog, but thought it deserved a little love over here, too. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

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Father’s Day {+ Free Printable}


I’m really blessed to be married to a guy who is a great dad, and with Father’s Day around the corner I started thinking a little bit more about my husband.

Maybe you’ve experienced something similar:

You married a man who you knew you loved, but then – then – you had children. And suddenly, he wasn’t the man you married.

He was so much more.

He gently cradled your tiny babies and took on diaper changes like a champ.

He wiped tears and put band-aids on boo-boos (even when he really didn’t think one was needed).

He made silly faces and did silly voices just to make your children’s faces light up.

He got down on the floor with your children and played. And read. And made memories.

He taught your children about respect. About saying “ma’am” and “sir.” About how you treat women. And men. And everyone.

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Snap an #UltraHug Selfie & Spread the Love with Walmart Huggies Snug & Dry


Summer is here, and my kids are thrilled. They’re looking forward to all sorts of fun, and we’ve already been enjoying evenings playing all together out in the yard. I have lots of great memories of summers during my childhood, and it makes me really happy to think of my kids having wonderful summer moments, too.

I do think, though, of kids for whom summer isn’t all great. There are some kids who rely on breakfasts and lunches at school, and when school is out these kids might very well go without food. No Kid Hungry Texas is a program that helps combat this issue, and it’s an organization I’m proud to support.

Huggies is hosting a great initiative right now, awarding 10 community organizations $2,000 each! All you have to do to nominate your community project is upload a selfie of you and your baby to Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #UltraHug.

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