October – 2016 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

October 2016

Fill Your Friends’ Halloween with Boo-tiful Fun!

At Home funded this amazing Boo! fun. All opinions are honest and my own.

Thanksgiving and Christmas often get associated with doing nice things for others, but I’ve decided Halloween has gotten unfairly left out. There are plenty of opportunities for random acts of kindness, and this past week we tried out one of my favorite Halloween traditions – “booing” someone!

One of my best friends started a new chapter in her life this summer, and has recently moved into a new home with her two kids. I thought she would be perfect to surprise!

Brian and I went to At Home to stock up on supplies. It was SO much fun looking through all their Halloween items to decide what we wanted to get.









We settled on a fun light-up inflatable arch, stake light pathway markers, a jack-o-lantern doormat, two metal signs, a cauldron perfect for holding Halloween candy, and a light-up jack-o-lantern. Once we had everything picked out, we just had to sneak over to my friend’s house and set everything up!


In front of her flower bed we set up two colorful metal signs and the orange stake lights. These bring a great amount of color to the yard and are fun and cheerful!




On the front porch we placed the doormat, jack-o-lantern and cauldron – a perfect doorstep setting for any trick-or-treaters on Halloween!


I think my favorite thing in the yard, though, is the inflatable arch. It’s so fun with the monster eyes on it, at night it lights up, and it’s a great entrance for trick-or-treaters to walk through as they head up to my friend’s porch.

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Teal Pumpkin Project Printable

Halloween will be here in a few weeks, and for most kids, that means one thing – candy. Our neighborhood is great for trick-or-treating and our kids typically end up with a pretty huge haul (which Brian and I may or may not “help” with eating).

For kids with food allergies, though, Halloween can be stressful (also – did you know 1 in 13 kids has a food allergy?). It involves either sorting through candy carefully to remove offending pieces, or avoiding trick-or-treating entirely.

Our nephew is allergic to dairy, and our good friends’ daughter is allergic to gluten.  Thankfully, neither of these are life-threatening, but our 7 year old son has a boy in his class with a severe peanut allergy. Their teacher talks about their classroom being a peanut-free zone, but last week someone ate peanut butter near him during lunch – he ended up having to go to the hospital. All three of these kids will have to be careful with what they consume on Halloween – which is why the Teal Pumpkin Project is so great.

FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) began this initiative to help make sure all children will come home on Halloween night with something they can enjoy. It just takes one simple act: offering non-food treats, such as glow sticks & bracelets, stickers, fun pencils, necklaces, or small toys as an alternative to candy.

If you’re participating, the idea is to paint a pumpkin teal as a signal to trick-or-treaters. Our local grocery store has a big display with teal paint ready for purchase:


I’ve created a free printable sign you can put up on your front door to let people know you’ve got non-food treats available – it’s an easy way to make Halloween a great night for all kids!

Just click here or the image below to start your free download. FARE has some other options for free signs, too!


Have a happy – and safe – Halloween, everyone!

Hamilton Beach Sous Vide and Slow Cooker Pulls Double Duty in the Kitchen

We received the Hamilton Beach sous vide and slow cooker to facilitate our review, and Hamilton Beach is providing the prize for the giveaway. I was not compensated monetarily, and all opinions are honest and my own.

Brian and I are love to cook, and we love to watch cooking competitions. For several years now we’ve been intrigued by the concept of sous vide cooking, but it has seemed like something only professional chefs do.

Hamilton Beach changed all of that with their sous vide and slow cooker. It’s a two-for-one product, giving you the familiar slow cooker and allowing you to get adventurous with sous vide.

Since we’ve used a slow cooker many times, we decided to sous vide chicken with chimichurri sauce.

We placed each chicken breast in a baggie with a little of the chimichurri sauce, and then lowered each bag into the water-filled sous vide vessel. The water helped press all the air out from within the bags, and then we closed the bags up. You’ll notice in the photo below that a rack comes with the cooker – perfect for setting the food.


We just set the desired temperature we wanted the chicken to reach, and then once the temperature was reached we set the timer and put the lid on – SO easy.


After the chicken finished cooking, we briefly seared each side of the chicken in a skillet and then plated it on rice with more chimichurri sauce drizzled over it.



The chicken was so tender that we didn’t even need a knife to cut it, and it was full of flavor from the chimichurri sauce.

Here’s the recipe we used for the chimichurri sauce:

  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley (packed full)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano (packed full)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In keepin with the “easy” theme, just put all the ingredients in your food processor and pulse until everything is well-blended. It’s pretty fool-proof!

I loved how easy it was to use – it will definitely be a staple in our kitchen. I can’t wait to try it with steak, and Brian wants to try seafood.

Are you curious about trying sous vide cooking? You can get a Hamilton Beach sous vide and slow cooker here AND you can enter to win one below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Green Tips for Brown Thumbs

Thanks to Chris Young for this guest post! As someone who definitely has a “brown thumb” I appreciate his tips! Follow him on Twitter or Instagram for more.

Everybody knows somebody who kills every plant they try to grow…aka “brown thumbs.”  I’m giving you a green thumbs-up to keep trying with a few helpful tips on how to keep your plants healthy and thriving!

  • If you’re trying to start a flower or vegetable garden outdoors, build up your confidence by choosing the easiest plants to grow.  I always recommend vigorous growers such as sunflowers, zinnias, daffodils, clarkias, poppies, sweet alyssum and daisies for beginners.  For the vegetable garden I suggest all peas and legumes, especially sugar snap peas and red runner beans.  Other easy veggies include lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots.  All these plants are particularly hardy and quick to grow with even the most basic care.  Sunflowers are particularly easy and quick to sprout when planted from seeds.  In fact, these sunny towers of power are recommended for children!
  • Speaking of basic care, one mistake “brown thumbs” often are guilty of is loving a plant quite literally to death.  Overwatering, despite our good intentions, can often cause a plant to wilt and rot (unless of course it’s a waterlily).  Water when the soil is dry to the touch.  If you push your finger in and it feels damp, then you can wait another day or so.  Make sure your potted plants have containers with drainage holes at the bottom.  You can also mix a bit of gravel to help your soil have better drainage.

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Perfect Ironing is Easier Than Ever With Rowenta!

Note: My contributor received a Rowenta iron to facilitate this review. All opinions are honest and are her own.

My contributor, Debbie, is the owner of Charlie’s Stitches embroidery. You can see examples of her beautiful work here.

Because of the nature of her craft, Debbie does an awful lot of ironing. I knew she’d be the perfect person to test out Rowenta’s SteamCare iron.


Here are a few facts about it the iron:

  • One Smart Temperature automatically adjusts the iron’s heat settings to remove wrinkles from any fabric, no manual adjustment required
  • Microsteam350 Soleplate has 350 fully-activated Microsteam holes that deliver optimal steam distribution, and 1600 watts of steam power can be channeled through the iron’s auto-steam, steam burst, or fine mist spray settings
  • Built-in Anti-Calcium system removes impurities, better for clothes and the lifespan of the iron
  • Tri-Plate Technology ensures 100% safe and efficient ironing even on the most delicate fabrics like silk and cashmere without the risk of shine or burn
  • Auto shutoff after 8 minutes if left vertical, after 30 seconds if left horizontal or tipped over
  • Precision tip reaches difficult areas
  • Vertical steam removes wrinkles from hanging garments and drapes

Debbie said she was very impressed with the iron. She mentioned that most irons just have steam holes around the edge, but she loved how the Rowenta has steam holes across the whole surface of the iron. She also loved the precision tip for things like reaching between buttons on shirts. Debbie tried it on both a shirt and on one of her embroidery pieces – see how quickly wrinkles are removed in the videos below:

You can purchase the Rowenta iron online here.

Check In & Pamper Yourself with a Hotel Bruce Spa Prize Pack

This is a partnered post. Thanks to Disney for sending me a copy of Hotel Bruce, and for providing the prize pack for my giveaway.

If you remember, last year I shared a fun Lemonade Cake recipe to go along with a great book we’d received – Mother Bruce. This year the creator of Mother Bruce, Ryan T. Higgins, has released another fun Bruce-centered book called Hotel Bruce


Here’s the premise behind the newest book: When Bruce gets home from a southern migration trip with his goslings, he is tired. He is grumpy. And he is definitely not in the mood to share his home with the trio of mice who have turned his den into a hotel.

There’s a possum pillow fight wreaking havoc in one room, a fox luring guests into a stew in the kitchen, and a snuggly crew of critters hogging the bed. Bruce growls and grumbles and tries to throw them all out, but the entrepreneurial mice just can’t take a hint. Bruce is in a little over his head, especially once the goslings join the staff. Will this grumpy bear ever get his quiet, peaceful den back to himself?


The book is a hit in our house! It’ll be released October 18 – preorder it here now!


In keeping with the hotel theme, I’ve got a fun, relaxing prize pack you’ll love. You’ll get:

  • a cozy hotel robe, a pair of slippers + sleep mask;
  • a copy of Hotel Bruce to keep your little goslings entertained!


Just enter via Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

[ad] Two Ingredient Chicken Mummies

This post is written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. All opinions are entirely my own. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SpookyGoodSnacks #CollectiveBias

It’s October, and that means our kids are all about Halloween. On Saturday we put out all our Halloween decorations, and before long we’ll be picking out pumpkins. I send jokes in my boys’ lunch boxes each school day, and I’ve started bringing out some Halloween-themed gems like What do birds do on Halloween? Trick or tweet! We are imparting Halloween fun (nothing creepy – our kids are young and, well, I’m a wimp) in lots of ways, and I’ve even come up with a spooky good (and quick, and easy) snack/dinner option my kids adore: Chicken Mummies!


Aren’t they SO fun? Before you worry that you’ll try this and end up with a Pinterest fail, let me tell you this. There are just two ingredients to the mummies – or three, if you count the “bloody marinara” dipping sauce. They’re delicious and a great source of protein, too!

First, snag some Tyson® Any’tizers® Chicken Fries. I sent my husband to H-E-B and he found them on the frozen food aisle.


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