Category Archives: Frugal Finds

Let’s Stick Together ~ Teacher Valentine Goodies

Hi friends and Happy Friday!

This morning I jumped on Pinterest for V-day teacher ideas and immediately got overwhelmed. I set out on a few errands and figured I’d get inspired somewhere along the way. I had seen some cute mustache mugs at 99cents Only and thought I could fill those with some hot chocolate or Starbucks VIA packets or something so I popped in there and all of a sudden that idea didn’t sound good anymore. I spotted some little single tulips that hadn’t bloomed yet and thought I could doctor them up for Thursday. But then I thought they may bloom before then and look bad by the time we deliver them {I worry about stuff like this!} so I put them back and came across these super cute post-it notes….what teacher doesn’t need post-its?


Aren’t they so cute?

Of course I had to come up with a cheesy tag line to go on the card…


{I will, of course, add an apostrophe in “let’s” to be grammatically correct}

The kids will write their Valentine greeting on the back of the little tag.


Easy peasy, right?

The kids will sign and address some 60+ valentines this weekend which I coincidentally also picked up at 99cents Only a couple weeks ago. They have cute ones and you can’t go wrong for a buck ~ Elliott will pass out sweets & cupcake ones and Holden will hand out pirate cards.

How can cupid be visiting again? Coming up on mid-February already….



Have a blessed weekend!


Creatively Cheap

Hi friends and Happy Friday!

Well, we’re already over half way into January and Twenty 13 has been great so far! I usually have a little bit of a hard time after the holidays and January, February and March are not my most favorite months. No offense if your birthday falls in these months…Holden’s birthday happens to be late February and I wouldn’t have it any other way, of course.

But if you really think about it, February has the Superbowl, Valentine’s Day and my little guys birthday, so there is lots to look forward to and we most certainly need January to prepare!

I always LOVE hitting the after Christmas sales at Target and everywhere for that matter. In the past I have overbought stuff just because it’s cheap and this year I really tried to reign in and be really particular with the goodies that I picked up. I am cheap and waited until the 90% off sign went up at Target ~ yes, things are picked over, but that makes it easier because it’s already been narrowed down for me! I picked up some sparkly pink and aqua tissue paper that I can certainly use for birthdays throughout the year for cents and found some adorable stuffed ornaments that aren’t Christmas-y at all that I can tie on packages year round ~ my new addiction!


{little Matryoshka from World Market ~ 50 cents}


{scooter from Target ~ 39 cents}

I am obsessed with cheap brown shipping/packaging paper & grosgrain ribbon {both from Dollar Tree} wrapping with a little attachment and the receiver’s name using my new alphabet stamps, a gift from my mama for Christmas.


I popped into World Market on Wednesday and all their holiday stuff was 90% off. Yes, there wasn’t much of it, but that was good because there wasn’t much for me to buy! Ha!

I could NOT pass up these little felt hedge hog baskets for Holden’s animal/safari party…


{World Market ~ 80 cents}

I also spotted this woodland creature paper that I plan on using as a backdrop for a little photo booth at Elliott’s “Glamping Sleepover” for her 8th birthday in May…


{World Market ~ 50 cents}


Then, on Wednesday afternoon while Elliott was at Religious Ed class, Holden and I went to Rite Aid for some dish soap. Of course, I had to survey the after Christmas pile and found some cute shoelaces with the stocking stuffers marked down 75%…


{Rite Aid ~ 25 cents a pair}


They had 5 pairs that were non-Christmas ~ hearts, stars and rainbow zebra print. Initially I grabbed those for a few of her friends as Valentine’s Day treats. They had several Christmas pairs, too, that I ended up going back for and will use later this year for their friends {the Christmas ones had more options for boys, too}. Sure I’ve seen these fun shoelaces at the dollar stores, but if I can get 4 times the amount for the same price, I’m on it!

I was on Pinterest scoping out non-candy Valentine’s treats and there are TONS of cute ones so I will have to come up with something for the whole class, but I thought the laces were too cute for her to hand out to a few of her “besties”.


So, with that, I will say that the year has started out well and I am not wallowing in the sadness of the post-Christmas crash as I usually do.

But all this creativity has certainly gotten in the way of me being more active and that’s not OK. I got in about 3 miles yesterday and plan to get out this weekend and log some more miles before the month is over.

Have a beautiful weekend, all!

We must use time creatively in the knowledge that the time is always right to do right. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tiny Tokens Wrapped Up Big

One of my fondest Christmas memories was when our family would get together with another family at the holidays, have dinner and exchange gifts.

I remember my mom’s friend, Judy, arriving with a big basket filled with beautifully wrapped packages. We’d all sit around the fire after dinner in our living room calling out names and swapping these little packages.

What I recall most wasn’t what was under the festive wrapping paper, but just the gorgeous wrapping itself. Between my mom and Judy, I was destined to carry the {take the gift wrapping to the next level} gene.

Over the years the gift bag has gained popularity and, don’t get me wrong, I use those babies like they’re going out of style. I recycle them and often times eye some super cute ones at the dollar store and throw a few in the cart. But, I love wrapping gifts the old-fashioned way with a nice roll of wrapping paper, some Scotch tape and some twine or ribbon of some sort ~ getting the corners all tucked in just so before adding a little piece of tape to secure it.

Secret: if the gift is a weird shape, I’ll throw it in a gift bag with some tissue and call it a day!

At Christmas, I like to acknowledge the special people and friends in our life with a little token to show them that we’re thinking about them at this special time of year. It doesn’t have to be much…in fact I pick up little things that I come across in my travels and tuck them away in my secret compartment in the months leading up to Christmas. Then, I wrap them up with lots of love and deliver to sweet recipients. I also like to have little tokens and goodies on-hand that I can grab at the last minute for hostess gifts and such. I most certainly like to shop and choose gifts for specific people, but it is nice to have a few neutral things waiting in the wings for last minute situations.

1. Lilly Pulitzer message board

2. Small blank journal

3. Simple pair of earrings

4. Mrs. Meyer’s soy candles {Target clearance}

5. Blank notecards

6. Wine charms

7. Scarf

These are all little things that I picked up at Target, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx or Ross for next to nothing. Always check the clearance sections first!

Other little things you can keep on hand for little gifts are…

Wine {Trader Joe’s has bottles of good wine for as low as $3.99}

Pound of holiday blend coffee

Box of holiday tea {I love TJ’s candy cane green tea & cinnamon vanilla black tea}

Statement rings for the girly girls in your life {they have cute ones at Target and Kohl’s}

Little bottle of hand soap in holiday scent for the kitchen or bathroom

Dish towels


I like to use blank manila shipping labels for gift tags and doctor them up with stamps, the kids’ little drawings or washi tape. Add a “to” and a “from” and you’re done! I found mine at Office Max, but they came with a string instead of the wire which makes it a breeze to tie on packages.



I have most of my fun finds ready to wrap up and give this Christmas…trying to get a head start with the gifts so I can focus on baking in a couple weeks. Plus, we never have very many wrapped gifts under our tree until Christmas Eve!

Just for old time’s sake, I may just have to find a big basket to hold all my little packages until they are ready for delivery.

Happy shopping & wrapping!

Spray Paint & Succulents

I mentioned here what I had in mind for our end-of-the-year teacher goodies and I wanted to share how they turned out because I think this is my new favorite gifty gift. They come together so quickly and are very inexpensive, yet have that personal touch.

First, pick up some terra-cotta pots {I used 6″}, a can of spray primer and a can of spray paint in a color of your choice. Spray on a coat of primer, let dry and then a coat or two with your color…

I didn’t really paint the inside of the pot, but you will need to flip it over to get the top edge painted and both top and bottom of the little saucer that goes underneath. Fortunately it was a warm day when I painted and they dried completely within a couple hours…this is probably something that you cannot do the night before you plan on giving it to someone, though.

Next I filled the pot with potting soil and patted it down. I then took a shoot of our large succulent that I had cut off and placed in water for a week or so, stuck it down into the soil and gave it a nice drink of water.

To make delivery easier, I tied some jute twine around the pot and saucer and added a little note.

I think they turned out adorable ~ so simple and chic!

Again, this project was inspired from this post by Mel over at The Larson Lingo.

You could certainly use already painted or decorated pots and add any type of plant or flower, even herbs. These make such a nice, personalized and thoughtful gift or little thank you for the people in your life. Can’t wait to make a few colorful pots to brighten up our backyard.

And in keeping with the yellow theme, I delivered sugar cookie bar happiness to the office staffs at both schools…

Want to brighten someone’s day? Make these!


We now have a second grader and a kindergartner!

{first day as a first grader}

{last day}

{first day in pre-k}

{last day as a preschooler}


A big THANK YOU to Mrs. Howard and Miss Sandi for all they did to help Elliott & Holden {bloom} this school year.

We hope you both have a fabulous and relaxing summer!

Rummage Sale

A random pile of facts from our weekend…

1. Made {Baked Oatmeal} for our Saturday breakfast.

{followed the link above, but subbed almond/coconut milk and coconut extract}

Such a fun twist on regular ‘ol boring oatmeal…next time I’m adding some fresh berries to the mix.

2. We had an impromptu garage sale on Saturday morning. It was more like a rummage sale. I just threw a bunch of stuff out there and came up with a price when they asked!

Made about $20 an hour for stuff that I would have driven to Goodwill…I’ll take it!

3. Holden cried when a woman walked off with his Baby Bjorn potty chair. He said, “You’re selling all my stuff!” About broke my heart, but he wasn’t about to coax me into keeping stuff that I’m trying to get rid of, so he went inside and watched a movie while mama purged!

4. Fun bowling birthday party with this delicious pizza for lunch.

5. Little Church and my scripture study were cancelled for Sunday morning, so we went to Saturday evening mass instead.

6. Made Rachael Ray’s Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac for dinner.

Super yum and lowfat. I used reduced fat cheeses for the top ~ blue cheese and mexican blend.

7. Sunday morning was lazy with clouds, rain and Pioneer Woman’s Super Sonic breakfast burritos!

I think I got a little too aggressive with the fillings, but they were to-die-for.

8. Kids talked me into taking them to Elliott’s new dance studio’s grand opening in the POURING rain just to jump in the germ infested bouncy….


Waste. Of. Precious. Gas.

9. Jay didn’t like the quote the dealer gave him for new brakes on his Jeep, so he did it himself.

{We did have to make one minor trip to a “professional” for a quick fix-it, but other than that we saved a ton of cash. Thanks Pep Boys for the parts and YouTube for the brake changing tutorial!}

10. Had the Sushi Bake again for dinner last night. We’re hooked.


And that was our weekend, folks.

Hope yours was just as random and nice!


Rubber Dollar

Part of my job description of {stay-at-home-mama} is stretching our dollar. Jay works hard and I/we try to get the most out of our money, most of the time. Without cutting too much out of our lives.

I’m not going to lie, we’re feeling the results of this messed up {putting it lightly} economy, but we are still blessed beyond measure {!!!}.

I think we’ve all noticed that the cost of groceries AND gas are going up {duh!}. I tend to want to close my eyes at the pump when filling up.

So, since we’re constantly watching our pennies, I am always looking for a way to get the grocery bill down and make meals stretch. Fortunately our family is fine with leftovers! I usually will cook on Monday and Tuesday nights and then we’ll have the leftovers on Wednesday and Thursday. That way I get a break in the kitchen a couple nights a week when we have church or play dates or whatever. Fridays after dance class are either crock pot meals or Souplantation, usually.

Here are some links to marathon meals that can take you through the week {if you’re OK with leftovers!}…



Taco Soup

Chicken Spaghetti

Turkey Tetrazzini

Stuffed Pepper Soup

Rotisserie Chicken ~ 2 recipes, 1 chicken

Southwestern Crock Pot Chicken

Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplings

Greek Orzo


Another way to save on your weekly food bill is to shop the sales. We get the ads delivered in the mail once a week and sometimes I assemble the meal plan based on what’s on sale. Also, I primarily shop at Ralphs and this enables us to rack up points on their rewards program to get the biggest rewards check after each quarter. I think their prices are better than Vons and definitely lower than Albertson’s! I also started shopping at Sprouts for produce a lot ~ again, selecting the fruits and veggies that are featured that week in the sale paper and building meals around them.


I’ve also been trying to conserve gas by walking to school every day. This means I’m in extra drill sergeant mode every morning so we can get out the door in time so we’re not late. Because I don’t do late…if there’s drama and we’re running behind schedule, we’ll drive so we get there on time. Pet peeve of mine. Sorry. I may not get everything right, but I do have a record of zero tardies in the school office. I’ll take it.

I also combine errands and do them on Tuesdays and Thursdays when Holden is in school. His preschool is not real close to our house so there is no sense in me coming home while he is there. This is when I do all my running around. Mondays and Wednesdays are my at home days when I {try} to get caught up on things around the house…you know, blog reading laundry, vacuuming, Pinterest cleaning, picking up crap, etc. Yes, some days I do stay home as to not spend money! If I go out, I will spend money. Proven fact. Right, Jay?


Saving money and stretching your dollar also mean saying “No!”.

This is the hardest one for me. I come from a place of “Yes!” {like my girl, Bethenny}. No, I have not read it, but want to.

We do have to say no to things and sometimes it’s not fun, but if the money isn’t there, it isn’t there.


Turning off the cable.

We did this for about 6 months last year and, guess what, we lived to tell about it! NO Direct TV from February to August of 2011…I still watched all my faves, just a day behind. No biggie.

And we’re doing it again right now.

Direct TV on hold until further notice…’s all good.

We get a lot of Red Box movies, the kids both have iPod Touches, we have TONS of books, we live in So Cal where temps in February were nearly in the 90s……they’ll be alright.


Bottom line is that we try to maintain a fine line between squandering our dollar and stretching our dollar without giving up too much. There are nights when Jay is like, “We’re going out to dinner!” because we always say we need to eat out less, which we’ve done, but I think we all know that once in awhile you need to get out and enjoy a nice family meal at one of your favorite restaurants.

This post is just the tip of the frugal iceberg! I won’t even get into how I almost never, ever spend full price on things. We’ll save that for another day!

How do you or does your family try to make the most of their money?

It’s hard.

But I do like the challenge.

Semi Handmade

Need a last minute gift and want to personalize it a bit?

Hot glue a few rosettes to a store bought cosmetic bag, clutch, cloth wine bottle gift bag or even a plain stocking…again, I learned how to roll rosettes from this tutorial and found it very easy.

I recently picked up a remnant of thin, sheer red fabric at Joann’s that I think makes better rosettes that the thicker fabrics…

These little corduroy mary janes caught my eye at Tilly’s and I am just bummed they didn’t have them in woman’s sizes! They were on clearance for $10…my mom picked up a pair for Elliott and I stuck on a couple small rosettes at the toes.

I found a 3-piece set of the cheetah print cosmetic bags {small, medium and large} at Ross for $9.99, embellished them and gave them as Christmas gifts to my mother-in-law, Elliott’s dance teacher and this one is a surprise!


I’m the Sandra Lee of the crafting world ~ ha!

Only about TWO more days…do you still have things to check off your lists or will you be spending the next couple days chillaxin’?

I need to grocery shop for 8 people for about 7 or 8 meals and pick up a couple last minute things, but after the looks of Target this afternoon, I am afraid…very afraid.

Wish me luck!

Hoping you get all your errands done and your out-of-town guests arrive safely.


30 Ways To Stuff A Stocking

Now that the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, what is St. Nick going to put in there?

I am Santa is always doing a mad dash for stocking stuffers, so here is Flip Flop Follies’ list that you can pass along to him…

{this was a staple in our stockings growing up}

Lifesaver Book {Lifesavers are perfect bribes for [sit-in-the-cart-or-else] moments}

Band aids {found some animal print and superhero ones at 99¢ Only…we go through band-aids like they’re going out of style in this house}

Chapstick or lip balm {Bonne Bell, anyone?}

Bubble Bath


Cuties {the mini oranges}

Pistachios {my kids love to eat these with their daddy and make a mess}

Fruit rolls {you can turn around and stick these in their school lunches}

CLIF Kid Zbar bars or Nutrigrain type bars {again perfect for lunches or afternoon snacks}

Sugarless gum {Elliott loves Extra peppermint ~ she calls it [spicy gum]}

Fresh new crayons or washable markers

Fun pencils

Pencil top erasers

Cheap sunglasses

Socks {the great sock caper lives in this house}

Organic lollipops from Trader Joe’s


Bubbles {cheap fun for park visits}

Matchbox cars

Nail polish

Knit gloves {cheap at Target}

Beanies {also cheap at Target}

Workbooks or coloring books from Dollar store

UNO card game or other family card game

{LOVE this burlap & bling ~ via}

$5 gift cards to their favorite places:

Mickey D’s for a Happy Meal

Golden Spoon or local fro-yo place

Starbucks for a hot chocolate

Gift card to GIVE to someone in need {they will love doing this and spreading Christmas cheer}

Homemade coupons for fun stuff:

Hot lunch at school {this is a rare treat in our house}

Music or game download for your iPhone or iPod


We {try} to keep stocking stuffers useful…because enough stuff already ends up on the floor.

Hope this helps.

Happy Friday!

Five Minutes To Festive

Need a quick, easy and cheap way to decorate for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas?

I spotted this on Pinterest and knew immediately that this {craft} was made for me. Literally FIVE minutes and you’re done.

1. Grab some pinecones {Holden and I found these at our local car wash!}

2. Pick up some ribbon {I got this 5 yard roll of red grosgrain at Dollar Tree ~ they have tons of other colors, too}

3. Cut to desired length and quantity

4. Fire up your glue gun, put a generous amount of glue on the bottom of the pinecone and attach the ribbon

5. Arrange in different lengths and tie a loop or a knot at the top

{They dry in just a few minutes and are ready to hang}

How simple is that?

Next time I will cut the ribbon shorter and make them fuller with about 6-8 pinecones, but I was just playing around this morning while Holdy is at school and wanted to share with you so you could whip some up yourself!

I think one would look great on a front door…also we have two shutter-type things on either side of our garage window along the walkway to our house and I think two of these flanking the window would be a nice, simple decoration along with the little white lights that I hope to hang this year! {Jay, you hear me? ;-)}

When it comes to outdoor holiday decor, I am a minimalist.

I think these pinecone danglies fit the bill.

Happy pinecone gathering!


Kids Eat Free

Tonight Holden ate FREE at Casa Aspiras.

Our Target recently underwent the {fresh food upgrade} and we’ve gotten a couple free coupons to come and check it out. I’m in there at LEAST once a week so why not grab some free eggs and a free box of Kraft mac n cheese, right? Those two are staples in our house.

Holden chose the Perry The Platypus mac n cheese and that was his dinner ~ almost the whole box. Done.

Elliott had leftover Thai food and leftover jasmine rice. Done.

Jay and I sampled some Pasta Fagioli {recipe coming soon} that I made and polished off the baby backs from last night!

For our anniversary dinner I made Mel’s slow cooker baby back ribs.

The best baby backs I ever had were in OKC while there on business about 8 or 9 years ago. I’ll never forget them. Because of those ribs I have to ask at every restaurant, “Do your baby backs fall off the bone? I mean really, literally FALL off the bone? If not, I will send them back!” If I sense any hesitation from the waiter, I will order something else. That is how serious I am about my ribs. I have never made them in a slow cooker, but figured if I did them on low for 8 hours they couldn’t help but separate from the bone….and that is exactly what they did! The sauce is a cherry dijon BBQ sauce and it couldn’t be easier to prepare. We will be making these LOTS more ~ thanks, Mel!

We paired these up with some blue cheese mashed potatoes {3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed and boiled until fork tender. Melt some butter [4 tsp] and a small carton of whipping cream [1 cup? the teeny tiny one] in a sauce pan and add that to the potatoes after draining. Pour in about half to 3/4 container blue cheese with some salt & pepper and mix with a hand mixer or low on your Kitchenaid until blended and creamy} and some boring steamed broccoli.

For dessert, I made one of Jay’s and my all-time favorites, tiramisu. This was a first for me to actually make and I was petrified because there are all kinds of raw eggs going on in this dish, but we lived to tell about it.

I followed this recipe.

It was magnificent. Don’t let the raw eggs scare you…I would not feed it to the kiddos or anyone that has an compromised immune system just to be on the safe side.

We may have had some tonight, too, and it is better the longer it sits….so I’ve heard. 😉


This is a fancy dinner {the ribs not the Perry the Platypus mac n cheese} that you can literally enjoy on a weeknight. Stick the ribs in the crock pot in the morning and they’ll be ready by din din. The mashed potatoes can be made a day ahead or over the weekend and keep well in the ‘fridge for a couple days. They reheat really well. And the broccoli, that’s just there so you don’t feel too guilty about the tiramisu, but you could substitute any veggie or a green salad for that if you’re not a fan.

Happy Monday, friends. I hope your weekend was fabulous.

Tomorrow I will be announcing a little giveaway which is a bundle of some of my favorite things…stay tuned!

Nighty night.