October – 2015 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

October 2015

Give Hope to New Moms with Cigna & Samahope


I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for the Cigna Foundation, in partnership with Samahope. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation. Thanks to Samahope for providing the images in this post.

On Monday something pretty wonderful happened – my sister-in-law gave birth to her first baby, and I became an aunt to an adorable little boy! We drove down to Austin and got to experience the anticipation of sitting in the waiting room, glancing up at any sign of motion for my brother-in-law to announce whether they’d had a boy or girl.

The hospital we were at provided great care for my SIL and the baby, for which we were all really thankful. And here in the U.S., thankfully, great prenatal and postpartum care is a very normal thing. Unfortunately, though, not everyone in the world is so lucky. Some mothers don’t have access to prenatal care to help give their babies the best start before they’re even born, and some women don’t give birth at places with quality resources.

The Cigna Foundation has partnered with Samahope to help raise awareness and funds to improve the maternal health and safe childbirth resources provided to women around the world. And you can help, too.


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Otterbox My Symmetry Case: Great Customizable Gift!


We received an Otterbox case & inserts to facilitate this post. We weren’t compensated monetarily, and all opinions are honest and our own.

Holiday Gift Guide 2015

My husband recently got an iPhone 6, and we were looking for the perfect case for him. If you’ve gone case shopping recently, you’ll know there are a ton of options out on the market – but none were him, exactly. Or there’d be a case he kind of liked, but didn’t want to invest $50 in only to be tired of it a month later.

The Otterbox MySymmetry Series provides the perfect solution for any smartphone owner. MySymmetry Series clear iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s cases show off your iPhone while protecting against scratches, dings and drops.



There’s more, though! The My Symmetry series allows you to use inserts (and Otterbox has a lot to choose from) to give your phone a custom look – and since the inserts are really inexpensive, you can buy several and change them out as often as you want.

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You’ll FLIPP for These Great Halloween Deals


Note: I received compensation to facilitate purchase of deals found with the Flipp app. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Halloween is next weekend (!) and the kid in me was pretty thrilled to discover that it falls on a Saturday evening. It works out perfectly -Friday night we’re having friends over for a pumpkin carving & painting party, and we’re having a Halloween-themed meal for the kids, since Saturday will be busy with trick-or-treating. It’ll be a lot of fun, and I decided I needed to ramp up my Halloween decor and supplies to get ready.

I knew that, when shopping, I didn’t want to break the bank on items we’ll only get to use for a short time each year, so I turned to my Flipp app on my iPhone to help me find the best sales and coupons. If you haven’t heard of Flipp before, it is a free iPhone & Android app that aggregates all your favorite retail circulars onto one super-handy digital device for seamless access to the very best deals on everything you’re shopping for. There are all sorts of categories to pick from, or you can do a search to find the specific item(s) you want.

The screen below is my favorites screen; it shows me circulars for the stores I shop at most.


I was on a mission, though – to find great Halloween deals. I did a search for Halloween, and it brought up all the deals in my area.

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Three Low-Cost Ideas for Family Holiday Fun


This partnered post is brought to you as part of my Denny’s Ambassadorship. All opinions are honest and are my own.

The holidays will be here before we know it. I know from years past that we’ll get busier and busier as the holidays get closer, so I’m already starting to plan ahead – I know I’ll be thankful when we’re in the midst of the holiday season. And since the holidays can also be one of the most expensive times of the year, I’ve got three great – and affordable – ideas for family holiday fun. You could do all three in one evening, or you can split them up. Either way, these will make for some fun family memories:


1. Make looking at Christmas lights extra special.

Driving around town to look at Christmas lights is a tradition many of us probably experienced as children. I have lots of memories of driving past a particular neighborhood in Fort Worth, where the lights from houses reflected on to a small pond and seemed almost magical. If you’re planning on taking your kids to look at lights, you can easily (and cheaply) step up the experience a bit with a few special touches:

  • Line the car seats with cozy fleece blankets, and have extra blankets and pillows for each car rider.
  • Have everyone (you too, Mom & Dad) wear pajamas.
  • Pack a travel mug of coffee or hot chocolate for everyone, complete with peppermint for an added Christmas flavor.
  • Bring along popcorn, cookies, and/or candy for the kids to have a special treat while you drive around.
  • Have a Christmas music playlist ready to go for background music.
  • Get a cheap pair of binoculars and let the kids take turns looking at houses up close and personal!
  • Play a version of BINGO, having the kids look for various decorations (i.e. inflatable snowman). Here’s a link to a free printable card.

2. Have a fun holiday-themed meal.

Eating out as a family doesn’t have to be expensive – in fact, I’ve written before about how we fed our family of five for just $20 at Denny’s. You can have an affordable – and extra-fun – meal for you and the kids with Denny’s great holiday offerings for kids and grown ups alike:

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Boys & Girls Clubs of America Triple Play


I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Boys & Girls Club of America. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Our kids are young – 8, 6, & 3 – and Brian and I think all the time about how this is a time in their lives in which we’re helping them establish habits that might last an entire lifetime. We hope to teach them polite habits, thoughtful habits, and healthy habits. Being healthy, of course, can encompass so much – mind, body, and soul. From a young age, activities such as taking part in school sports, making friends at after school clubs, and maintaining a balanced diet contribute to the health in all three of these areas. The skills and routines practiced as children influence habits well into adulthood, and establishing healthy lifestyle patterns with our children helps them carry these skills forward for the rest of their lives. Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Triple Play program encourages us to continue shaping our children’s future and get out and about with our family.

Triple Play launched in 2005 and has made close to 10 million connections with kids, sharing how important it is to have physical activity and proper nutrition.

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When We Needed Extra


I have, over the years, developed a love for traveling with minimal baggage. I used to over-pack for trips, thinking of every possible thing I might need while away. Now, though, I pack the bare minimum. This is largely because I know we’ll also have luggage for four other people in our vehicle, and because I know that whatever I pack will eventually have to be unpacked upon our return home.

There’s one exception to this rule, though: supplies for cleaning up. Napkins, towels, wipes… we’re prepared, folks. And it’s not just because I was a girl scout. It’s because we learned from our experience. From our oh-so-unpleasant, toddler-puking-all-over-dad-in-the-middle-of-a-restaurant-and-then-again-in-the-car experience in the middle of a different city, right before we were supposed to get back on the road to head home from a day trip. We had to make not one but two trips to the store to get a bucket, a change of clothes for both my husband and son, paper towels, and trash bags.

There are just certain things, certain necessities, you want to make sure you have extra of – because you definitely don’t want to run out of something crucial when you really need it.

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#SavorSimple Moments with Your Furry Friends


This post is part of a compensated campaign with Purina, who is also providing the prizes for giveaway. All opinions are honest and are my own. 

First of all, if you haven’t already entered my giveaway for your chance to win one of THREE Waggin’ Train prize packs, go do that real quick. Then come back here and finish this post.

Now, back to business.

We are busy. Not as busy as some families, but busier than I’d like a lot of times. We’re on the go many evenings during the week, and sometimes we don’t get to spend as much time with our dogs Sally and Ninja as we’d like to.

Thankfully, it’s easy to tell that what makes them happy is being with us, so even if Brian and I are working on design freelance, or we’re watching a show together to decompress after a busy week, the dogs can be right there (and I mean rightthere) with us. Ninja really just wants to spread out on the cool floor with us near him, and he’s happy as can be!


I also love it when Sally hops up in bed with us – she circles around a few times before she settles into her spot, and if one of the kids is in the room she’ll inevitably be laid on (which she actually adores, because she’s such a sweet dog).

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Purina’s Waggin’ Train Dog Treats are a Hit! {Giveaway}


This post is part of a compensated campaign with Purina, who is also providing the prizes for giveaway. All opinions are honest and are my own. 

If you saw some of my posts last week, you know that our dogs are a big part of our family; we had fun celebrating them for National Dog Week, but that doesn’t have to end just because the week is over! We want to keep letting our dogs know we love them with plenty of attention, plenty of petting, plenty of play, and plenty of treats!

If you don’t remember, we have two pups in our family:

Sally is 4, and is an 80-pound labrador/golden retriever mix. She is a mouth breather, so you always know when she’s nearby… and she loves to be near us so we almost always hear her panting. :) She is incredibly sweet and she thinks she’s a lap dog.


Ninja just turned 1 in April, and he’s a yorkie/schnauzer mix. He is only about 12 pounds, and I’m betting 2 pounds of that is fur – he’s our little mop! He also likes to be right where we are all the time, unless he’s wrestling with Sally (because while she thinks she’s a lap dog, he clearly thinks he’s an 80-pound lab).


While our dogs couldn’t look any more different from one another, they’re the best of friends (I guess opposites attract?) and they play together all the time. It really is as if he’s the little brother who thinks his big sister is so cool and so he wants to be around her all the time. But since he’s the little brother, he has to also bug her and beg her to play with him.


One thing the dogs definitely have in common is their love of the Purina Waggin’ Train Chicken Jerky treats. I pulled out the chicken jerky curls for them to try the other day, and Sally practically climbed up on to the dining table (which she doesn’t even do for PEANUT BUTTER, friends – that’s saying something!).

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