Friday, November 21, 2014

10 Ways I'm Saving Money This Christmas

Christmas at my house is going to be a little different this year. In the past, we've shopped till we dropped and got the kids everything their little heart desired AND MORE! 

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2013 Aftermath

Christmas 2013 Aftermath
We spoil our kids! There's no doubt about it! But, seriously? Half of the stuff in the photos doesn't even get played with regularly! And this year we want to take a big trip, so this year is going to be different. Here are the ten ways I'm saving this Christmas...

Christmas Savings

1. Have a Plan
 I'm making a list and checking it twice! I'm going to save this Christmas by not just buying random stuff! The kids have made their lists of the top items they want. I'm narrowing it down and deciding what is realistic and what is not. Then I'm making a list and sticking to it. 

2. Budget
This year I plan on keeping track of my spending. In past years, I've just gone shopping until it felt like I had bought enough and then called it good. In an effort to save some money this Christmas, I'm putting a limit on how much all the kids get. 

3. Memories not things
One of the major reasons we are cutting back on presents this year is because we plan on going home for Christmas. A ten day long vacation and a 36 hour road trip is going to be pretty costly. But you know what, the kids will have the memories. We haven't been home for Christmas in 5 years! My son probably has some vague memories of opening presents at Grandma and Grandpa's houses, but my girls don't have any. Heck, one of them has never even been there for Christmas. But this year, we making a priority to make memories not buy gifts. Make cookies with Grandma, yup! Drive around looking at Christmas lights with Papa, yup! Opening presents by the fire where I sat as a little girl, I can't wait! Too many cousins crammed in a little house and everyone stuffing themselves full of goodies! It's a way better way to spend Christmas than opening another junk toy!

4. Things Out of the Box
My daughter loves to make and send cards. I showed her some of my return address labels the other day and she thought they were so cool! So you know what, I logged on to, found a deal and got her some of her own. They are pink and polka dot and she's going to love them. I also found these cute stamps (affiliate links) and I'm going to pick up some of these white notecard sets. She'll have her own stationary to decorate and send letters to family and friends. 

5. Gift of Time
Much like the making memories, I plan on saving by setting up some extra special parent/kid dates! I headed to Pinterest and found these cute printable Gift Coupons. I plan on filling them out with things like "A night at the batting cages" or "PS3 Family Game Night" for my son. And "Spa Day" or "Lunch and a Movie" with my daughter. Saves me money now by being able to have them use the coupons in the future. They still get a fun activity and I don't get all the toys in my house! Win-Win!

6. Buy Used
She's never going to know that the Barbie Vacation House Santa left for her used to be some other little girls. It's in great condition, has all the furniture and is the number one thing on her list. My bank account will know however because I saved and spent less on Barbie's RV, Vacation Glam House and Car than I could have buying just the RV brand new! Shop around and see what you can find. Some things I'm not willing to buy used, some things are worth searching for and saving money on. 

7. Think Practical
Stocking stuffed with candy, dollar spot toys and cutesy Christmas things. NOT this year! I'm saving money by being practical. They are getting underwear, socks, body soap, new toothbrushes and toothpaste. It's exactly what my Grandma used to do for me and my cousins growing up. Santa still brings them nice new things but it won't cost me more when we visit the dentist again soon. 

8. Pay Cash
To make sure I'm not still paying off Christmas next March (like I've done before) I'm using cash for presents, or at least my debit card. Credit cards aren't getting used! We've worked hard to pay down the balances this year in an effort to be debt free. I'm going to save by making sure I don't end up paying interest on any gifts I do buy. 

9. Handmade
A quiet book for the baby, perfect for a road trip! An On The Go Tic-Tac-Toe board for my son! American Girl Doll Sleeping Bag for my middle! Presents they'd all enjoy with out the big price tag. Saving win for me!! More ideas on my Pinterest, in my Christmas 2014 board.

10. From the Heart
Communication is huge between parents and children. My son turns TEN next year. I want to have him know now that whatever questions might be coming up he can talk to me about. Same for my daughter as she gets bigger. So this Christmas, I'm going to save by buying a cheap composition notebook and decorating them to be our Momma and Me journals. Much like this idea, here.  Cheap gift that will hopefully turn out to be something very great and meaningful. 

What are your plans for Christmas? Are you taking a trip or staying home? Do you have any other tips on how to save this Christmas? Please leave a comment and share them with me, I'd love to know!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Free Thanksgiving Printable - There is always something to be thankful for

I just wasn't totally digging My Fall Mantle. So I switched things around and I like it so much better now.

I also decided I wanted a new picture in my frame so I made one and I'm sharing it with you! There is always something to be thankful for is a great reminder this Thanksgiving! Click HERE to download the Thanksgiving Printable. It should fit in an 8x10 frame once it's been trimmed just inside the black lines.
To download this free printable, click here

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday so we never decorate for Christmas early around my house!! Do you wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Motivation Monday 11/17/14

Motivation Monday

Monday, again? Already? The last few weeks of this year are going to fly by! And I don't want to miss out on anything we have going on! Here's my motivation for the week...

 I don't want to miss a thing! Gonna make sure I stop and look around....
 This applies to my kids, too! A great reminder to soak up all the time I can with them while they are still little...
Cause you never know what will happen! Go out there and make something wonderful happen...
 UGH! Gotta quit complaining and get to work...
So much inspiration from my friends! It's so exciting to see how others see the world!
 Make new friends but keep the old! So happy I have such great friends!

Goals for the week:
1. Drink more water
2. Have better time management
3. Do More, Stress Less!

What are your goals for the week? How do you plan on making them happen?

Friday, November 14, 2014

High Five for Friday!!

HELLO FRIDAY!!!! It's been a busy week! I had a different post planned but I'm just not feeling it so you get my High Five for the week!

1. has reached OVER 1,000 page views!!!! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for continuing to check things out around here and show me so much love!! I have so many ideas rattling around in my head and in the blog section of my Family Binder. I really wish I had a few clones so I could manage to be in a million places at once but that's not quite possible so I'm trying my hardest to juggle everything. All the page views, comments and follows are my motivation to keep moving forward though so keep checking back to see what's up and let me know what you think.

2. Thrift Shopping aka Treasure Hunting- Checked out two different thrift stores today! Found some dressers I didn't buy but might go back and snag to use in my master bedroom as nightstands. Found a bench that I'm debating for the entryway. I totally should have bought it now that I'm thinking about it again. If it's still there this weekend when I have a chance to go back, I'll know it's meant to be. The best deal was at the base thrift shop though! I found a girls coat in new condition for my first grader! And I found a pair of Crazy 8 jeans in great condition that should fit her! They have adjustable waist which is a must for my skinny, long legged child! I also found two books that my son should enjoy reading. Paid a whole big $4.50 for it all!!!

Cute coat, huh?
3. Hubby bought two tickets to Mockingjay Part 1 last week without me ever knowing and I'm signing the kids up for parent's night out at the Y! DATE NIGHT in 7 days!!! I'm so excited!!! I love my kids but it sure is nice to go out without them occasionally!

4. Leave chit has been submitted! Ten days off at Christmastime is in my Sailor's sights! Still trying to figure out the travel plans but I think we are headed home for the holidays!! My sister and her husband already have their tickets and it'll be the first time since their wedding (over 2 years ago) that we'll all be there together again! Fingers crossed we can work it all out!

5. This happened.... Girl Scouts posed for Yokohama Statue reunited 52 years later! How totally awesome! I stood in front of that statue a few times taking pictures with different groups! It's so awesome to see the two countries come together and make new memories by bonding over old memories. Here's a pic from 2012 of L by the statue.

Girl Scouts

Linked up here!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Recipes on Repeat : My Kid's Favorites!

Recipes Kids Like

There is absolutely no point in me denying how much I love Pinterest!  It's my go to place for just about everything! And it's the place I visit most when I'm looking for new recipes to cook for dinner. I'm not a great cook, but I'm not a bad one! It's just not one of my favorite things to do. So when looking for new recipes I look for simple. My kid's, on the other hand, want tasty! They also want more sugar and less vegetables but we have to compromise somewhere. So here is a top 5 round up of my kid's favorite meals, all inspired by Pinterest.

Be sure to click on the link above the photo to go to the original recipe site and see all their details!

 This is my son's favorite Pinterest recipe! It's SUPER easy and I LOVE Crock Pot dinners! 

 One pan means less clean up! This recipes is quick, easy and YUMMY!

This recipe is another Crock Pot dinner! The mashed potatoes require a little more work but they are worth it!

Super easy comfort food recipe! 

Another Crock Pot recipe! See the trend? lol This is a favorite of mine also and I love when the weather turns colder so we can make it more often!

This is a great recipe for Sunday Mornings at home! I've also switched the sausage out for bacon and it's just as good! 

Well I'm so hungry now! Time to go find breakfast! 

Check out my Pinterest boards for more ideas! 

What's your kid's favorite recipes you've made from Pinterest?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Liebster Blog Award

Liebster Blog Award

So I've been researching and learning lots of  new things in a few facebook blogging groups! I've also been meeting LOTS of new bloggers!!! It's been lots of fun! One of those people I have met is Vicky from She has an awesome blog with all sorts of tidbits of life. She shares recipes, book reviews, travel experiences, blogging tips, the list goes on and on! She's basically totally awesome! And she nominated me and 8 other awesome new bloggers for the Liebster Blog Award as a way to get to know some new faces around the internet world! I read a lot of blogs already and I'm quickly realizing that there are so many more amazing people out there blogging that I ever imagined!

Here's the questions randomlittlefaves asked me...

1. What is your goal for blogging?

My goal for blogging is to stop just reading blogs and start doing! It's a way to hold myself accountable for saying that I'm going to complete a project and show that I actually made it happen. Ultimate goal for the blog is to inspire others to do the same.

2. What's your favorite Christmas memory (or tradition)? 

My favorite memory and tradition is watching A Christmas Story! I remember it playing on repeat at my grandma's house every Christmas growing up. And it's so fun to watch with the kids every year.

3. Chocolate Chip Cookies - with or without nuts?


4. If you could travel anywhere in the world (assuming money and time were no object) where would you go and how long would you stay?

Immediate answer: I'd move back to Japan and live there for the rest of my life!!!! I LOVED living in Japan the 5 years we were there.

Secondary answer: I'd love to go spend a few weeks traveling Europe!

Third answer: Road trip around America! In 5th grade, my friend and I had mapped out a trip to visit all 48 continental states on a road trip, seeing the capital of every one and all the biggest tourist attractions in between!

5. Morning person or night person?

Night person all the way! I hate mornings! I am so slow to wake up and get moving! Luckily, my kids are too. We could all manage a schedule of 11am wake up every day of the week if the world could manage to work that out.

6. If you could change one thing about the world today, what would it be and why? 

Man, this is a hard question! I could totally go with making folder machines for the laundry room, or transporters for travel or anything Jetson like. Or I could also go a little deeper and change the way people feel like the world is out to get them so everyone seems to have a "me, me, me" mentality. The thing of people thinking only about themselves. Why can't we work together a little more? It's not that hard to show a little kindness, slow down and think about your actions before jumping to conclusions and realize we are all in this together. We all have more in common than you think and everyone has something to teach and EVERYONE can always handle learning something new.

7. Who was your biggest role model when you were a kid? 

I don't remember ever having one specific role model. But if I had to choose one it would probably be my mother. She very much taught me a good work ethic and what I did and didn't want in my life.

8.  Who was your favorite teacher and why? 

My favorite teachers were always the ones who were super passionate about their subject. My physics teacher in high school was AWESOME! He loved science and he really loved all his students. My history teacher in high school too. It just really showed that he loved what he was teaching. He knew so many off the wall facts about presidents! It was fun to hear the stories he had to tell. He was my first class of the day though and like I said I'm not a morning person so I had a few detentions for his class from tardiness! My art teacher through middle school and high school was very cool too. He just let us, be us! And he gave good advice. There weren't many teachers I didn't like!

9. If I could have dinner with any famous person (dead or alive) who would it be and why? 

Oh geez! This is a hard question too! People right off the top of my head Juliette Gordon Low, Eleanor Roosevelt, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, Kid President, Gandhi, Dr. Suess, Walt Disney, Oprah. The list goes on and on. I think Juliette Gordon Low is who I'd ultimately pick. I'm a Girl Scout who bleeds green! I'd love to hear about what she thinks of the direction the organization is currently taking, how she thinks it could be improved or what she loves that is currently happening and some of her experiences as a leader.

10. What's your all time favorite book?

I love to read! But I am not the type of person who can sit and read a book over and over again. Once that "movie" has played in my head it isn't any different the next time. I love The Last Lecture. It's an amazing book that will change your life! I love The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, Little House on the Prairie Series, Leadership books of all sorts (Who Moved My Cheese?, The Leadership Experience, The Women of Berkshire Hathaway, Leading with the Heart, etc.)

And the nomination goes to....

There are so many to choose I can't pick just a few so I nominate anyone who is just starting out in the blog world who is looking to have some fun. Comment below if you answer the questions and I'll add your link to this blog!

My 10 questions for you...

  1. What is your favorite quote?
  2. What chore do you hate the most? 
  3. What is your favorite time of day?
  4. If you won a million dollar lottery prize, what's the first thing you would do?
  5. What is your biggest motivation in life?
  6. Name your favorite TV show?
  7. Have you ever had a nickname? What was it? 
  8. Top 2 biggest pet peeves, what are they?
  9. Do you collect anything?
  10. If you came with a warning label, what would it say? 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Real Life : The Good and the Bad

So when I started blogging I always told myself I wasn't going to be one of those people who only posts the prettiest pictures of the cleanest house ever and children always smiling and unicorns pooping rainbows! Sometimes I look at all those pictures and just think "yeah right!" Your life isn't always puppies and sunshine like you make it out to be, there's just no way. This mom stuff is hard! So is the wife stuff and so is the just being a person stuff sometimes! That's partially why I even picked the blog name with Real Life. So today I'm going to share some of my Real Life Problems. Luckily, my issues in the grand scheme of things are just First World Problems but I'm trying to do my best to deal with them in a positive way! So here we go...

This edition is brought to you by ZOMBIES because today I am going to be one, barely resembling a still living human, luckily, because I haven't run out of coffee just yet! Last night the baby woke up from her nap around 7:30pm so she didn't want to go to bed till 2am! Then, once I finally got her and myself into bed I had a horrible dream about the Zombie Apocalypse invading my neighborhood. In my dream the only thing I could come up with to save me were a bunch of bananas. That's about all I had to pack to try and hurry up and get out of town with my husband and kids, BANANAS! After I woke up from that graphic dream and managed to fall asleep again for about 30 minutes, my son wakes up yelling for help (not something you want to hear after zombie dreams) cause he's puking in his room! UGH! Not cool at 4:30 in the morning! Then my husband got home from work at 6:30 to wake me up again. Then I was able to get at least another hour of sleep before I had to be up to get my daughter on the bus.

ROUGH NIGHT! But the positive side of it all is... I really need to put together a better emergency kit! I'm not going to go all out doomsday prepper style but I should probably make sure we have something better than bananas to survive if we get a bad ice or snow storm this winter and end up without power! What I do to beef up my emergency kit will be coming in a post soon!

BAD: Zombies
GOOD: Coffee and being prepared

Other, more short and sweet, good and bad scenarios from this week...

That's my dishwasher clearly not where it's meant to be! And that's my counter full of some clean dishes and a sink full of dirty ones. The dang dishwasher wasn't draining earlier this week! Luckily, my handsome handyman of a husband was able to take it apart and figure out what was jamming up the pump that makes it drain. Score one for us for saving by not having to  hire a handyman to come look at it!

BAD: Broken appliances and dirty dishes
GOOD: Hunky handyman who saves the day

On Monday, my husband came home and told me his work schedule is changing. Which means my work schedule has to change, like to minimal to no hours for me.

BAD: Loss of income from my paycheck! Not cool at Christmas time!
GOOD: Husband will be on days, I get to stay home and get this place back in shape before the holidays, more time for blogging and luckily I have a very understanding boss! So I'll get to go in when I can and work on some projects from home while the baby naps.

Luckily, those are my only real big issues this week! Like I said, overall, I've just got first world problems but I knew when I started a blog I didn't want to act like I never had issues at all. It's my blog and I want it to reflect me! My life isn't always perfect, no one's ever is, but I'm not about to post online and act like it is. Gotta keep it real, folks!

What kind of positives can you find in your troubles this week?

Hope you have a great weekend!