April is a busy month for us. We’re up to our eyeballs in kid activities and busy weekends away. I have a lot going on…what about you?
First things first though:
I wrote an original piece for Red Tricycle about why we discuss our finances with our kids. You can read it HERE. It’s a topic that I feel passionate about because I’ve seen how my kids have embraced being a part of these discussions and how it’s changed their view of money. I’m hopeful that by raising them with an understanding of how money really works, they’ll grow into adults who are good money managers.
I would really love it if you passed the article along if you think it’s relevant to your life.
Jack is playing soccer. This is the first time he’s participated in a team sport and it’s really fun to see him out there, doing his best and playing as a team.
And Anna’s art was featured at a district-wide art show. Her piece is entitled: “Jane Goodall–The Nutcracker.” Originality is her strong suit.
And the birds have decided to call our yard home again this spring, which I love. Because, let’s face it–I need more creatures who are depending on me to feed them in my life.
Speaking of creatures who depend on me…this one has been loving the spring weather here and lounging outside with me. This photo is noteworthy because I took it the day that I eschewed all of my responsibilities for the day to sit outside, read books, listen to podcasts and enjoy my birds. You can see the laundry baskets and laundry piled on the bed in the room behind Angie. It was a rare day of no responsibility for me and I loved every second of it. I highly recommend trying to find a day like that for yourself every now and then if you can.
I haven’t been this excited to share something with you in weeks…WEEKS, I tell you! I hope you’ll share my enthusiasm.
I have found a podcast that I’m obsessed with.
Unfortunately, there are currently only 3 episodes available and I blew through the first two, back to back, then waited (with baited breath) for the release of the 3rd this past week, then listened to it early in the morning, on my daily dog walk.
It’s currently the number 1 podcast on iTunes and, no matter how you feel about Richard Simmons (I honestly hadn’t considered his existence in years) it’s captivating and engaging.
You see, I wasn’t aware of this, but Simmons hasn’t been seen since February of 2014. An active part of his community and a regular on talk shows, Simmons simply disappeared into thin air and no one has heard from him since. It’s bizarre and (apparently) completely out of character for him. This podcast will leave you hanging on every word and theory about his whereabouts. Listen to it and then let’s talk!
A laundry item that gets my heart rate up:
The next item isn’t nearly as exciting as a missing flamboyant fitness guru, but it did get my heart pounding and my knees shaking when I saw it at Wal Mart:
It’s a laundry basket on wheels. I declared it “treat yo’self” day when I saw this for $9 at Wal Mart. (Link HERE–although, online, they’re sold in packs of 4 only–but check your local store to purchase a single).
One of the worst parts of doing laundry for me is transferring our overflowing laundry basket to the laundry room (first world problems for the win). When I saw this laundry basket with wheels, I visualized how much easier it would be to get from one side of the house to the other with a full basket. Also, for $9, I figured that there was room in the “Jenny’s Mental Health and Wellness” budget to justify this purchase.
If my laundry hamper was only halfway full, like in this picture, then it’s not time to do the laundry. My hamper always looks like this:
Also, Stewart likes to help on laundry day…
(By the way…did you know that Stewart has his own Instagram now? Follow him HERE for daily photos of his goings-on. It hasn’t been easy, going from a privileged life of private jets, visits to Uncle Elton John’s Feline Day Spa and trips to Tahiti to…well, sitting in a laundry basket).
And, lastly, I made a homemade “Febreeze” kind-of-stuff that worked nicely for me this week.
A quick backstory: My house has been stinky lately. Generally speaking, I’m a clean person, so I don’t let our house get too far out of control, but something has occurred in this house in the past couple of weeks that has resulted in a stinky house situation. Now, this is not a fly-infested, Hoarders-type of thing–it’s just a subtle ick that I’ve noticed.
It smells like someone fried a lot of bacon, deposited a few pairs of dirty socks under the couch and then brought in a few really dusty old rugs to scatter about the living room. I’ve been washing all of the bedding, washing the dog’s bedding (which, let’s be clear–the “dog’s bedding” is actually also “our” bedding because she considers our bed to be hers) and opening the windows for fresh air whenever possible, to no avail.
This week, I tackled the kids’ bedrooms. I cleaned and purged and rearranged dresser drawers (partially inspired by Wendy’s “Clean With Me” video…link HERE). While I was up there, I decided to fumigate, in case the mystery smell was coming from their rooms. I didn’t have any Febreeze, so I decided to make my own. Here’s what I found on Pinterest:
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You might’ve noticed that this week’s Friday Favorites are not “Frugal Friday Favorites.” Here’s why: All of the items that I’m featuring this week wouldn’t necessarily be considered “frugal.” Truth be told, I haven’t been shopping in months, so I’ve been using stuff that I’ve accumulated over my past shopping trips. Technically, I’m still exercising “frugality” but, this week’s items require a small initial investment.
Have you ever struggled with those flimsy little plastic produce bags at the grocery store? I have a college degree and–generally speaking–consider myself a fairly intelligent person, but damnit to all hell if I can not get those stupid plastic produce bags opened at the grocery store.
I do the whole, “rub-between-your-index-and-thumb” maneuver to no avail. I even blow on the (alleged) opening of the bag, in the hopes that it’ll relent and open for me. Nope. Never. I stupidly turn it over and upside down, thinking that surely I’m yanking on the wrong end of it and the actual opening is on the other side of the bag? Nope.
Then, let us also discuss how utterly useless those bags are when you get them home. At least with grocery bags, you can reuse those for all sorts of things, but the little plastic produce bags are the bane of my existence and I usually end up tearfully throwing them away because they’re so useless.
Enter these reusable produce bags. I love these bags so much. The best thing is the awesome drawstring. So, you open your bag, throw in your apples, yank on the drawstring then turn on your heel and leave all of your fellow grocery shoppers, huddled round the plastic produce bag dispenser looking on in disbelief, as you throw your reusable produce bag over your shoulder and proceed to the dairy aisle.
It’s uncommon for me to NOT be asked about my reusable produce bags when I’m at the grocery store–either by fellow shoppers or by grocery store employees. Oh, and did I mention that they’re also machine washable? All the heart-eyed emojis.
In a recent trip to TJ Maxx (that I mentioned HERE) I picked up a silicone makeup brush cleaner. I had been struggling with my eye liner makeup brush. I use gel eye liner (THIS) and, while I love it, it also gets so caked in my eye liner brush that it leaves the brush brittle and gross, making it impossible to use it the next time.
I picked up a similar silicone makeup brush cleaner when I was out and about last week and it’s saved the day for sure. It takes just a second or two to clean my eyeliner brush with this thing, then I leave the brush to air dry. The next time that I need it, my eye liner brush is soft, supple and ready to go. Game-changer. Plus, I understand that you should clean all of your makeup brushes often (oops) and this little tool certainly facilitates that for me.
Now, these definitely don’t fall into the “frugal” category. I bought these self-tanning towelettes (what a funny word, huh?) last year. I used them occasionally but then summer arrived and I was getting enough natural sun to skip this extra step.
Fast forward to this week. My face hasn’t seen the sun in months. I felt like my face could use a little oomph so I reached into the way-back of my under-the-sink cabinet and retrieved these long-forgotten self tanning towelettes.
I used one application and, by the end of the day, I looked so much better. Now, understand that I wasn’t going for a “I just returned from a week in Maui“-look but simply a remedy for the, “No, I don’t actually have the flu, but thanks for your concern” conversations that I felt were imminent, given the pallor of my face situation.
These are easy to use, leave just the right amount of color and aren’t as messy as regular self-tanning creams and mousses. They’re perfect for this time of the year. When I run out of these, I will likely try a drugstore version (probably THESE), but given how long these have lasted me, if the drugstore version isn’t up to snuff, I would save my pennies and purchase this brand again–they’re that good.
What are your thoughts on my Friday Favorites? Any Friday Favorites of your own to share? If so, leave them in the comments below. Or, find me on Facebook or Instagram and let’s chat over there!
So, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon this recipe for homemade pizza dough recently and discovered that we had all of the ingredients (which, really is only 2 items) and decided to go for it. I had a store-bought pizza crust waiting in the pantry in case this was a huge fail, so I decided to give it a whirl.
It turns out? It is the easiest. You really and truly can not mess this pizza dough up (because, believe this…if anyone COULD it would be ME).
Since you only need flour and yeast (and water) to make it, it costs pennies to make and comes together quickly with little forethought or advanced planning. I’ve declared that every Friday will be homemade pizza night in our house. This week, I’m trying my hand at homemade pizza sauce. This recipe is a contender.
My favorite place to bargain shop:
I’ve talked about TJ Maxx here before. It’s my go-to; my end-all; my soul-mate. If there’s ever anything that I need, I typically head to TJ Maxx first because, 9 times out of 10, they have it and it’s way better and way cuter and way cheaper than anywhere else.
Hear this: I don’t love Homegoods (TJ Maxx’s sister company) as much as TJ Maxx and here’s why–I love me some home furnishings, oh, hell yes, but sometimes I like to look at beauty products, shoes, clothes and purses too. Give me all of that under one roof and I’m a happy girl.
Now that we’re doing a pretty major “Budget Bootcamp,” I haven’t been to TJ Maxx in months. (I know, right?) But, I was running dangerously low on hand soap for the kitchen this week and TJ Maxx is the best place to buy hand soap, in case you didn’t know. So, I carefully proceeded to TJ Maxx with a very short list of my “needs” and a firm grip on my cash, lest I lose my damn mind in there.
Here’s what I came out with:
I’m always amazed when people say that they’ve never shopped at a TJ Maxx. There’s something for everyone there. And their merchandise turns over constantly, so it’s the type of place where it pays to stop in often.
Where we live, we have hard water. Even with a whole-house water softener, we still get soap scum and hard water stains in the bathrooms and kitchen. We have a glass shower in our master bath and, due to a number of circumstances (a few of these “circumstances” perhaps being laziness and/or Real Housewives of Beverly Hills marathons on Bravo) I had let our shower get a bit out of control.
Here’s the thing with our shower: Our bathroom has poor ventilation. There are no windows in our bathroom (oh, how I love windows in bathrooms) and this makes it really tricky to climb into a glass shower stall and scrub the bejeezus out of it with lots of effective, albeit TOXIC AS SHIT chemicals. I’ve made myself dizzy and sick a few times attempting this maneuver.
So, lately, I’ve taken to half-heartedly squirting a vinegar solution on the water stains every couple of weeks or so and also largely ignoring them. Spoiler alert: this is a wholly ineffective method for glass shower cleaning. #themoreyouknow
Today, I got a wild hair and decided to tackle our gross shower once and for all. I started digging for long-forgotten cleaning products from under the kitchen sink and found a can of Bar Keeper’s Friend that I don’t even remember purchasing. I decided to give it a go in our shower.
First of all, this stuff is non-toxic, so I was able to sit, closed up in my shower, for an hour, scrubbing away at the tile AND the glass with Bar Keeper’s Friend, with nary a hallucination nor an asthma attack. It also didn’t leave my hands red and raw like other cleaners do.
Secondly, holy moly, this stuff worked! It got rid of the hard water spots, the mold and mildew and soap scum too. Sure, I scrubbed it hard–so it wasn’t without effort, but it worked so well and I didn’t have to worry about breathing in chemicals. I can’t wait to try Bar Keeper’s Friend in other parts of the house.
Please share your own Frugal Friday Favorites below or chime in on the ones that I discussed today…any tips for using Bar Keeper’s Friend that I need to know about?
My weekday mornings begin early…I mean real early, girl.
My alarm goes off at 5 a.m. This is partly because I have to get my kids to the bus stop early and I need a few moments to collect myself before they wake up for the day.
Here’s what my average Monday through Friday mornings look like during the school year. All of these things happen before 7 a.m.:
1: Upon getting out of bed, I’m immediately met by 5 (6, if you count the fish too, who’s not pictured) hungry–obviously malnourished–pets, on the brink of starvation. They get fed first because they’re loud until they’re fed. Who owns who?
2: Before I do anything else, I take my multivitamin. I LOVE this multivitamin because it’s a liquid and it tastes divine (peach mango flavor). As soon as this stuff hits my system, I feel like I can take on the world. For real. I buy it from my local holistic health care practitioner, but Amazon sells it too. Link HERE
3: Next up, coffee. In between the vitamin and coffee, I guzzle a glass of apple cider vinegar/lemon water. By then, my coffee is cool enough to drink. I got Kevin this coffeemaker for Christmas and we love it. Turns out that, when you have a 12 year old coffeemaker, you’re drinking some shitty-ass coffee and you might not even realize it. This new coffeemaker has upped our coffee game considerably. Link to coffeemaker HERE
A few things happen between coffee and taking the kids to the bus stop. Actually, a lot more than a few: I empty the dishwasher, do my blog reading, make breakfast for the kids and assemble lunches for the kids (they make their lunches the night before, but I pack everything into their lunch boxes for them in the morning). None of these things are particularly photo-worthy though…
4: After all of that, it’s time to go to the school bus stop at the end of our street. The bus comes at 6:30 a.m.–which is stupid early, but when my kids ride the bus, it saves me from making the 20 mile (roundtrip) drive to their school, which takes about an hour out of my day. The kids like riding the bus–it’s social hour for them–so that makes it easier.
5: As soon as I get home from the bus stop, I make all of the beds in the house (provided that my husband is up already–sometimes he’s not and so I passive-aggressively slam bathroom cabinets and turn on lights around him to show my jealousy and remorse that he gets to sleep later than me). #supermaturewife #alsowelladjusted
To be fair, I enjoy getting up early. I need quiet time to myself in the mornings to prepare for my day ahead. I don’t think that I could function as well if I had to start all of my “mothering duties” the minute that my feet hit the floor. So, this is what works for me and my family.
What about you? What things do you get accomplished in the morning?
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I’m an action-oriented, list-making type of person, so I enjoy the beginning of a new year and all of the promise and potential that it holds. I’ve never really been a resolution-maker but lately, I’ve grown accustomed to setting some goals and intentions for myself at the beginning of the year.
This year, I have some goals and I thought I’d share them here, in the hopes that they’ll inspire you and also hold me accountable.
This week, I whipped up a batch of Simmering Stovetop Potpourri to scent our house while we’re at home, baking, watching Christmas movies and bickering enjoying each other’s company over Christmas break.
This stuff smells divine and is better for you than chemical-y candles and wax warmers. Plus, I can leave this pot simmering on the lowest heat possible on our stovetop all blessed day. At bedtime, I just put the lid on it and turn the burner off, then fire it back up again first thing in the morning. I add water as needed and will likely only need a fresh batch every few days or so.
There are lots of variations of this recipe so feel free to add or omit as you like. I’m planning to add in some rosemary sprigs in the coming days and I’ve read that you can add in small cuttings from your live Christmas tree as well.
This would also make a lovely handmade gift for someone–you could put the ingredients in a jar with a gift tag, explaining the directions. Voila! Thoughtful neighbor gifts that are consumables and diet-friendly (like my homemade sugar scrub!)!
How do you like to scent your home during the Holiday season?
Disclosure time: I consider myself a darn good host but I haven’t always been. It’s taken me years and years to perfect the art of making my house guests comfortable in my home. Let’s just say that there were some incidents, early in my hosting, that maybe involved a moldy coffeepot and cat pee on the bed. But, enough of that…
Confession time: I grew up eating canned cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. Given my proper, Southern upbringing, you’d think that canned cranberry sauce would be verboten, but that was all that I knew until my mid-20’s, when I started watching the Food Network and saw how easy it was to make homemade cranberry sauce.
I’ve been making our cranberry sauce for years now and it’s so easy and really makes a huge difference in the flavor of your holiday meal as well as the presentation. See what I mean?
Here’s my recipe for homemade cranberry sauce. It can be make several days in advance and even frozen, so consider making a double batch and using it for Christmas dinner as well.
1 (12 oz) bag of fresh cranberries
¼ cup of orange juice
½ cup (or more to taste) of sugar
Cinnamon to taste
(optional ingredients: fresh rosemary, allspice, nutmeg or chipotle–probably not all at the same time, but try a different spice or herb each time you make a batch)
In a medium saucepan, combine orange juice, sugar and 3/4 cup water over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.
Stir in cranberries and bring to a boil (the cranberries will pop open while cooking. This makes the sauce thick and beautiful.). Reduce heat, add cinnamon and any other optional herbs or spices you’d like and let simmer until sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sauce thicken further. Let cool completely before serving. You may also put the cranberry sauce in a food processor or blender to get rid of the chunks.
Consider canning the canned cranberry sauce this year and taking your Thanksgiving feast up a notch! It’s easy, delicious and might become a Thanksgiving tradition, like in my home!
Megan and Wendy participated in the “So very thankful” tag and I enjoyed watching their video on YouTube, so I’m going to participate too.
1. Name a color you are thankful for. Turquoise. Always turquoise–especially this time of the year because I love seeing turquoise accents, amid the red for Christmas. 2. Something your spouse does that you are thankful for. Kevin plans and cooks dinner every Thursday. It’s so nice to have one night of the week where I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner. 3. Something your kids do that you are thankful for. Anna’s superpower is exceptional manners, so, while I still remind her to use her best manners everyday, I really don’t HAVE to. Jack is such a hard worker. When he sets his sights on a goal, he’s driven like none other. 4. A food you are thankful for. I love my recipe for cornbread dressing that is a hybrid of both of my grandmother’s famous recipes. It tastes like my childhood and home. 5. What recent good news are you thankful for? This one is tricky right now, but I’m going cop-out and say that I’m thankful for the news that it’s finally going to get cold here this week? Sorrynotsorry. 6. Name a drink you are thankful for. Coffee. Err day. 7. Name a restaurant you are thankful for.Panera Bread. My kids have finally discovered Panera Bread so now, they’ll willingly choose it over other fast food and I can finally eat something healthy when we go out to eat. 8. Talk about an animal you are thankful for. How much time do you have? I’m very thankful for the opportunity to foster a mama cat (Jacobien–“Bean” for short) and her 4 babies (Booger, Tux, Bandit and Pinto) for our local no-kill animal shelter. It’s so rewarding to know that we’re able to give these sweet kitties a new beginning and a safe, warm home to live in for a few weeks. 9. Name a beauty product you are thankful for. I’m enjoying all of my Rodan+Fields products right now. I drank the R+F koolaid hard, y’all. 10. Name a cleaning product you are thankful for. My homemade granite cleaner (recipe HERE) 11. What social media platform are you thankful for? Instagram. I love Instagram and I’ve purposely kept my personal account locked down, so only my nearest and dearest get to see what I post–unlike Facebook that is too big and wide right now. 12. Tell us why you are thankful for the last person who texted you. My dearest friend, Erika. She gets me like no one else (and somehow loves me in spite of it). 13. Name a candy you are thankful for. Sour Patch Kids. I’ll rub the roof of my mouth raw from eating too many then keep going back for more. I can’t quit you, SPK. 14. Name an app on your phone that you are thankful for. What’s App. That’s how I stay in touch with my close friends from all over the globe. We have almost-daily text chains that range from the philosophical to the ridiculous (and sometimes ridiculously philosophical). Thanks to What’s App, we can stay in touch in almost the same way we did when we all lived in the same city. 15. What are you looking forward to that you are thankful for? Hosting my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s rehearsal dinner in mid-December. When we bought this house, we knew that it would be great for assuming some of the entertaining burden from my mother-in-law and I really enjoy throwing a good party and planning every little perfect detail–especially for those that I love. Party hosting is my love language.
This was fun! If you’d like to participate, please link below to your post so that we can see your answers too!