Archive for the ‘Frugal’ Category

Pan Seared Oven Roasted Steak Recipe

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Pan Seared Oven Roasted Steak Recipe Header

Tired of paying premium prices for a filet mignon at your local steakhouse? Learn how easy it is to make a steak that tastes just as good at home. Once you master this cast iron skillet method, you can enjoy a weekly steak without the guilt. Try my pan seared oven roasted steak method.

If there is one thing I love, it is creating a restaurant experience in the comfort of my own home with a price tag that fits our budget. 

Today’s post is less recipe and more about a quick and easy way to prepare a sirloin filet (or rib eye steak) at home.

Raw Steak in Skillet

The truth is, if you have a beautiful cut of meat, the last thing you want to do is mask that delicious flavor.

A beautiful steak needs only to be dressed simply with a little oil, salt, pepper, and a butter finish to be more than worthy of your taste buds. This filet mignon recipe is perfect for two and ideal for a small dinner party or date night at home.

I had hoped to have a beautiful picture tutorial for you, but this steak cooks so quickly that I am going to type out my tips instead.

Even with the tomatoes and roasted asparagus as our sides, we still will have dinner ready in about fifteen minutes! 

Pan Seared Oven Roasted Steak Recipe Header

Pan Seared Oven Roasted Steak Recipe

That will be even less time than it would take to haul everyone in the car for a meal out, not to mention the incredible savings you will experience by dining at home in your very own dining room!

Here are my recommendations for that “steak house” experience at home!

Please note, these are directions for cooking a filet mignon.

The same technique can be applied to other cuts

Cooked Filet in Cast Iron Skillet

Pick the Right Type of Pan

Since we are need to sear the steak and then finish it in the oven, you want to make sure that you have a pan that can do this task well.

I love a good heavy-bottom skillet that does not have a plastic handle or a cast iron skillet for this job.

My cast iron skillet has been SO good to me over the years.  

This is definitely a work horse in my kitchen and it is also a great tool to use when outdoor grilling for delicate meats or when mixing up a big batch of fresh veggies so you don’t have to cook in a hot kitchen in the summer.

It has truly been the best $20 I have ever spent and I know that you will feel the same way especially after cooking your steaks on it.

Let Your Meat Rest At Room Temperature

It is really important that you don’t put cold meat into your hot pan. 

I like to pull my steaks out about 30 minutes before I plan to cook them and leave them on my counter.

This helps to heat your steak more evenly and helps prevent the risk of your meat drying out before you have finished cooking it.

Get Your Pan Screaming Hot…Even Hotter Than You Think

If you want a beautiful sear on your meat, you need to be sure that your skillet is hot enough to add that beautiful caramelization on your meat.

Make sure to turn your oven up to high heat and let the skillet warm for five minutes before you begin cooking your meat.

When you place your meat in the pan it should stick and you should hear a nice sizzle on the outside. That’s exactly what you want to hear and see happening to your meat.

Dry & Season Your Meat Well

One of the best tools in your arsenal for creating the perfect steak is a paper towel.

If you want a beautiful sear on your meat, you need the meat to be dry and not wet, otherwise you risk just having your meat steam in its own juices rather than sear.

Dry the meat with a heavy-duty paper towel and then brush the steak with oil.

I love to use canola oil (although you can use olive oil in a pinch) and then season your meat simply with salt and pepper.

Once your pan has to come to that screaming hot phase, drop your seasoned meat into the pan and let it sear for two minutes on each side.

Don’t Move Your Steak

Once you have dropped it in, the first thing I know I want to do is to shift the meat and take a peek at it.

Just don’t.

Let the meat get the golden sear it needs for two minutes on each side, giving it a beautiful crust on the outside, and keeping your meat perfectly pink on the inside.

Butter Makes Everything Better

A butter finish makes all dishes a little more beautiful, don’t you think?

A dab of butter is a beautiful finishing touch to the steak before sliding it into the oven to finish cooking.

Craving a garlic flavor? After you brush your steaks with oil, take a clove of garlic and rub it against the raw steak to add that garlic flavor (without burning Consider making this simple garlic butter compound for your recipes.

Pan Seared Oven Roasted Steak Recipe Finished

Avoid Overcooking

A meat thermometer is your best friend. I still rely on mine for my steaks.

I love my steak to be medium rare, but cook it to the consistency that you love the most.

Keep in mind that Rare is 120 degrees, Medium is 125 degrees, and Medium Well is 130 degrees.

Always Let Your Meat Rest

If you cut into your meat right when you take it off the pan, chances are that all the juiciness will just pour out on your cutting board or plate.

Cover your steak with a little tin foil and let it rest for ten minutes before diving in. 

I promise you will have a much more flavorful bite if you just wait the recommended amount of time.

Another Steak Recipe Option

Prefer to grill steaks? Try this easy steak marinade made with soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, oil, and lemon juice. This is the best steak marinade and perfect for inexpensive cuts like marinated flank steak, strip steak, or a flat iron steak.

Make steak nights quicker by making these freezer mashed potatoes and portion in small portions for reheating in your slow cooker

Pan Seared Oven Roasted Steak Recipe Plated

 

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Looking for more fun date night meal ideas? Check out these recipes!

Restaurant Style Steak Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
 
Tired of paying premium prices at your local steakhouse? Learn how easy it is to make a taste that tastes just as good at home. Once you master this cast iron skillet method, you can enjoy a weekly steak without the guilt. Once you master this cast iron skillet method, you can enjoy a weekly steak without the guilt. Try my pan seared oven roasted steak method.
Ingredients
  • 2 (10-ounce) filet mignon (you can double this recipe, just make sure you have a large skillet so all the steaks have room)2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Heat a large, well-seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and brush them lightly with canola oil.
  4. Combine the salt and pepper on a plate and roll the steaks in the mixture, pressing lightly to evenly coat all sides.
  5. When the skillet is ready, add the steaks and sear them evenly on all sides for about 2 minutes per side, for a total of 10 minutes.
  6. Top each steak with a tablespoon of butter and place the skillet in the oven.
  7. Cook the steaks until they reach 120 degrees F for rare or 125 degrees F for medium-rare on an instant-read thermometer. (To test the steaks, insert the thermometer sideways to be sure you're actually testing the middle of the steak. Mine took 4-5 minutes to come to medium rare)Remove the steaks to a serving platter, cover tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

 

The Best Instant Pot Risotto Step By Step this instant pot risotto recipe couldn’t be easier

Pad Thai Recipe make this pad thai recipe at home

 

5-ingredient salmon sheet pan meal you only need 5 ingredients to make this salmon sheet pan meal

butter chicken recipe skip the indian takeout and make this butter chicken at home

Happy cooking, friends!

Pan Seared Oven Roasted Steak Recipe Header

 

Grocery Shopping Tips at ALDI

Monday, February 24th, 2020

Grocery Shopping Tips At ALDI Header

Take a behind-the-scenes look at ALDI supermarket. Discover how they make their store brands, learn more about shopping the store, have ALDI groceries delivered, and learn what products I love from this budget-friendly store.

Have you ever wondered how products are made at ALDI and how this grocery chain is able to keep their prices so low?

I have the inside scoop thanks to an exciting grocery store tour I got to do at the store. I also have had the privilege of working with them at blog conferences and to help facilitate their store tours for other customers.

Longtime readers know that I have been an early minister on spreading the ALDI truth.

Amy Allen Clark- The ALDI Queen

In fact, for many years I ran a blog called, The ALDI Queen.

You could say that for many years, I made shopping at ALDI my job and my mission to get families to shop there.

The items, at the time, were difficult to create menu plans around because of their limited product choices.

That isn’t the case now AT ALL.

I do almost 100% of my shopping, at their store.

I remember as a child going to ALDI Supermarket with my mother to get our groceries

If you have been an ALDI shopper, for as many years as I have, you may remember the price sheets that ALDI would print.

It was a black-and-white newspaper ad that would tell you all of the price deals for every single week.

The sheet was alphabetized and you would have to find each of the current prices within their handy flier.

I remember being in charge of holding the sheet and plugging the figures into our calculator.

Ah, the days before the digital fliers and phone calculators.

Am I showing my age?

ALDI Supermarket provided some relief to our family’s grocery budget and it now provides relief to my own family’s tight budget as well.

If you are thinking this store is only worth the trip for the bakery staples, you would be wrong.

Thanks to their ever expanding product lines, ALDI now carries many of the specialty products that you would purchase at your local Whole Foods, as well as loads of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free products.

As a longtime fan of the grocery retailer, I could not wait to see how this company operated and, frankly, how in the world they can offer food for such a low price.

This grocery store tour allowed us to learn more about how their stores were set up and I even got to participate in a blind taste-testing of the products to see how they compared with other national brands. 

There was truly not a single element of this trip that I was not fascinated with.

I’d love to share with you what I’ve learned over the years.

Grocery Shopping Tips At ALDI

Grocery Shopping Tips at ALDI

(this clip explains the history of ALDI from ALDI)

Where did ALDI originate?

Despite the growing amount of ALDI Supermarkets all over the United States , ALDI actually originated in Germany and is known as the German Walmart.

The history of ALDI is as intriguing as their deals that they offer.

The frugal ways of ALDI actually came out of its post World War II beginnings, in 1948, when customers at its first store in Essen Germany wanted only the lowest priced staples.

These stores were started by two brothers, Theo & Karl Albrecht, and they named the store Albrecht Discount.

Albrecht Discount is now known as ALDI (for short).

Grocery Aisles at ALDI Tour

How does ALDI keep their prices so low?

This is an answer that we were told would take years to explain, but the main points all pointed to simple cost-cutting measures, employee training that goes beyond other grocery stores, a limited selection of items, smart store design, and in-house private labels.

Some of the ways they save is by having baking items on pallets and dairy items on rolling carts so the employees don’t need to stock individual items on shelves.

The savings are also reflected in the smaller things like the quarter deposit for your cart and bagging those groceries yourself.

Honestly, I am able buy double the items for our family just by shopping their store.

Seeing is believing so make a plan to visit your local store soon.

How do I find out if I have a store nearby and what are the store hours?

ALDI is expanding and has been remodeling many of its stores. To find out if you have a store near you, you can locate your local store by searching with your zip code. This will also tell you your store hours so you can plan your shopping trip.

How many employees work in an ALDI store?

The typical ALDI store only has between 6-8 employees and it is common for their employees to celebrate 15, 20, or 25 years of service.

They pay their employees significantly higher than the national average and with 20 hours a week, they give their employees full health insurance benefits.

Employees go through extensive training and they do everything from putting out the new pallets of food to ringing up the customers to tidying the store.

It is this efficiency and the smaller pay rolls that translate into big savings for their customers.

Looking for a job with ALDI? Check their current listings here!

What is the difference between ALDI and other grocery stores?

ALDI is a very normal store, although it lacks many of the frills of the traditional supermarkets.

They offers a “strictly no frills” approach to their store which means that they do not decorate their aisles or fill shelves.

Items are placed on pallets, similar to your shopping experience at warehouse clubs, and customers pick items off of the pallets.

Upon a pallet being emptied, the employees bring out another pallet to be bought from, eliminating the need for someone to sort shelves.

Keep in mind, you will not be receiving any free bags (scroll down for more information on that and purchasing a cart), or a personal greeter, stores.

Most ALDI’s do not offer a deli, a butcher shop, a bakery.

In fact, it is hard to find even a listed phone number.

You see, if they had a phone number, then they would have to have someone answer the phone.

That one extra “frill” would cost ALDI time & money and this is how they keep their costs low.

What is the ALDI AOS and what will I find there?

While ALDI does keep to many grocery basics, the trap is found in the middle section of their store.

This is the, special purchases or ALDI Finds aisle that bring in superior discounts on random household items each week.

These can include kitchen gadgets, electric appliances, furniture, patio items, toys, exercise equipment, home decor, and even computers.

If you see chats that talk about the AOS, you may be wondering what is going on.

It’s the AISLE OF SHAME.

Hahahaha!

Basically, it is the middle spot in the store that you might get sucked into.

I have often come home with random things like fabric steam cleaners, an exercise weight set, a foldable buffet table, or even clothing items.

It’s the Wild West of aisle and always yields incredible surprises.

It is a bit like shopping a Big Lots or TJ Maxx and is referred to, by enthusiasts as, the AOS.

What does ALDI mean when they say you will, “shop different,” at their stores?

In the ALDI mission statement, you will discover these promises that share why they consider their grocery store to be such a unique experience.

  • Twice as Nice Guarantee- If you are unhappy with an item, not only will they refund your money, but they will also give you a replacement item for free. Read about their refund policy here. This guarantee does not mean a guarantee on being the lowest priced though. They always do their best to be the lowest price, but there may be times (in the seasonal and special purchases aisles especially) where you might be able to get the item for less at another store or with a coupon.
  • They Meet or Exceed Competitor Brands- They aim to make a product that is better than their competitors and many products are award-winning because of it. In 2019, they taste-tested over 30,000 products just to make sure that you have the best tasting product on the shelf. Read more about their good quality food and policies.
  • They Say NO to Synthetic- Every ALDI exclusive is completely free of certified synthetic color, added MSG and partially hydrogenated oils. You can read more about this commitment here.
  • They Carry Organic Products- ALDI has daily delivery of produce, fresh meats and fish, and carry an extensive line of organics, gluten-free and vegan foods.
  • They Have Many Award-Winning Wines- Forget that two buck chuck business and acquaint yourself with the ALDI aisle. The wines are incredibly affordable and you can find new offers every week. They also do a few monthly wine features that they don’t typically cary.
  • They Have the Best Prices. Seriously.– Check out this comparison on the pricing at ALDI, Kroger, & Walmart.

Who Has a Lower Price- ALDI or Trader Joe’s?

I loved the results of this price comparison on ALDI vs Trader Joe’s.

As you can see, ALDI offers pricing even lower than most Trader Joe’s products.

What is the Best Day to Shop?

Wednesday is the the BEST day to shop ALDI.

This is the day when the ALDI Finds get freshened up and you can find, typically, between 40-50 new items at the store. 

See you in the AOS! 

What do I need to know for my first trip to ALDI?

Download the ALDI App For Your Visit

If you are trying to locate the current price sheet and weekly flier, downloading the app is highly recommended.

Not only will this tell you the current store price, it also has a place for you to jot down your shopping list and the ability to search the QR codes on any product.

Don’t Bring Your Coupons

No coupon clipping is needed for your ALDI shopping experience.

ALDI sells, primarily, only store brand merchandise saving you some time on coupon cutting.

Typically, they only carry one or two brands for each product you are hunting for. Just because these products are considered “off-brand”, in actuality, many of the private label products are made by well-known brand manufacturers and are simply shipped in different packaging to their stores.

Bring the Right Type of Payment With You

Currently the store accepts cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, most debit cards, the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), Link cards, SNAP and contactless pay such as Apple Pay And Google Pay.

At this time they do not accept checks or the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC)

buy a quarter keeper for ALDI buy this quarter keeper so you won’t forget OR shop all the fun quarter keepers

Bring a Quarter for Your Cart

The store offers a shopping cart rental program which can be confusing the first time you shop the store. I highly recommend purchasing one of these quarter holders for your keychain so you don’t forget.

The carts are linked together, you slide the quarter in (the quarter spot is located near the handle on the right), and this releases your cart.

Once you are done with your cart, simply bring it back to the linked carts, link it to the cart in front, and take your quarter back.

Quarter for ALDI Carts

This simple solution saves on hiring people to scavenger hunt for carts.

If you forget your quarter, go to the cashier and have them make change for you.

Feeling generous?

Leave the cart unhooked to save someone a quarter.

Collapsible Reusable Bags for ALDI buy these collapsible reusable bags or find your favorite reusable grocery bags here

Bring Your Own Grocery Bags (Or Pay a Small Fee for Theirs)

It is green to bring a reusable bag (another cost-cutting method by the store) and you can bring your favorite set (I HIGHLY recommend these) or you can purchase reusable bags from the store.

If you don’t need another reusable bag, you can purchase plastic or paper bags for a small fee.

Also keep your eyes out for empty boxes because these are perfect for storing groceries in your car and make carrying your groceries easier.


Be Ready for the Cashiers, and I MEAN READY!

If you have ever stood in a line at ALDI, one thing you will see is that these cashiers work at lightning speed and can wait on customers quicker than any other store I have ever been to.

As a customer, you load your items on the conveyor belt and then bring your cart to set up next to the cashier. The cashier will scan the items and place them in the cart for you.

Once you are done, you relocate to bag your groceries.

If you want a hilarious example of the speed, you will love this. Follow me on Instagram for more fun every dang week.

Get Bagging

Instead of having someone bag for you, you will be the bagger! I find it helpful to organize my bags by categories.

I keep a bag for freezer foods, meat, canned items (break these up so they aren’t heavy), fresh produce, soft items (like bread and eggs) dairy, and pantry items (like peanut butter, jelly, sugar, flour, macaroni, rice, pasta, etc..)

Grocery Cart for Chronic Illness this is what I use when I do any curbside pickup- highly recommend if you have a chronic illness too to save trips!

Need Someone to Help You Bag? Introducing ALDI Delivery!

ALDI now offers curbside pickup and grocery delivery. Our store is not participating just yet, but this service is offered by Instacart.

For 2020, you can use coupon code SHOPALDI20, for new Instacart members, which should give you free pick-up on your first three orders.

We use the grocery delivery service, at our house, and it has been a Godsend for our family.

As someone who has health problems and chronic joint pain issues, this has been so helpful for our family.

ALDI offers this through the Instacart platform.

To be an Instacart member, you pay $99 for the year and this pays for unlimited visits (similar to being an Amazon Prime member).

Keep in mind, you may notice an additional mark-up on the pricing (it isn’t significant, but worth nothing) and there are additional fees that apply to online orders.

I think of this pricing system as the purchase is made including a bit of a buffer for paying the employees to shop for me.

For example, tipping your shopper will be an additional expense.

Grocery Shopping Tips At ALDI visit my passive income for busy moms series for new ways to save BIG for your family!

Get Cash Back on Your Purchases

Although ALDI doesn’t take coupons, be sure to scan in your receipts into Ibotta for potential cash back rewards!

Looking for more ways to save big? Be sure to follow my passive income series now.

What I Learned From My Behind the Scenes ALDI Trip

For seasoned ALDI shoppers, what I’m sharing might not be new, but maybe this information is?

Blind Taste Test At ALDI

They Are Serious About Beating Their Competitors on Taste

I am a longtime customer and super fan of the products that ALDI offers, but the blind taste test that I participated in surprised even a super fan like me. 

We sampled many items from their holiday line and compared them to the national brands.

Blind Taste Testing at ALDI Headquarters

ALDI ham review

 

Blind Taste Testing of Cheese At ALDI

Even though I love ALDI, I can be a bit of a food snob when it comes to certain foods like high quality cheeses and meats.

When we taste tested Tyson chicken versus ALDI chicken, I truly loved their brand better.

I knew the meat that I had tasted must have been the Tyson meat, but I was dead wrong.

It goes to show that sometimes we are just conditioned to believe one brand is better than the other.

Belmont Pies Review

Belmont Pies Review

Another surprise was the difference between Mrs. Smith’s apple pie versus the ALDI Belmont Deep Dish Apple Pie. 

The ALDI pie crust (pictured on the right) cooked and browned more evenly. 

The difference in the taste was significant and the price was 28% lower.

Even being the ALDI fan girl that I am, I came away feeling validated that the choice that I had made to shop at the store, out of necessity due to the financial strain we had been under, for our family was a good one. 

The cost-cutting measures of the store do not cost-cut on the bottom line of the quality of the items in the store.

In fact, the company does their best to offer a better product that the name brand. 

After doing this blind taste-testing, I believe they have (FOR SURE) exceeded the standard.

ALDI & Trader Joe’s Are Not Owned By the Same Company

A common misconception is that this store is owned by the same parent company.

The relationship though is…confusing.

ALDI Nord owns Trader Joe’s in the States, but the ALDI stores that you see in the States are run by ALDI Süd, which is separate from Trader Joe’s.

To quote The Kitchn, “The chains are kind of like estranged cousins. Step-brothers? In-laws? We don’t know! But it doesn’t matter because the stores are run entirely independently with no joint ownership.”

They Have a Tracking System to Pull Products Quickly

ALDI does their best to work with local farmers to get fresh produce on their shelves.

The transparency on this will be on the pricing label and say that it is, “locally grown.”

Each of their produce items are tracked so that they are able to pull specific numbers off of the shelves if there are any food safety issues with the products.

This means any time a purchase is made, you know it is held to food safety standards AND you are also backed by their twice back guarantee.

Barcodes of ALDI products

Multiple Barcodes on ALDI products

Barcodes on ALDI products

multiple barcodes on ALDI products

There Are Multiple Barcodes On Every Product

This is one of those things that I would have never noticed and now I can’t believe I didn’t see this before.

You may not know it, but ALDI offers smart packaging that can speed up your wait time at their store.

In this picture is a single bag of chips, simply held at all different angles.

Practically every corner of their bags and boxes have a UPC code that can make scanning your items that much faster. 

Go ahead and take a peek in your pantry at your ALDI items and you will see it too. It is one of those things that you may have never noticed, but translates into saving time for you.

I hope you enjoyed these fun ALDI facts! 

Scroll down for some of my FAVORITE recipes made from ALDI ingredients!!

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Affiliate links help support our site. Thank you for supporting a small business owner!

Looking for ways to prepare dishes with ALDI ingredients? Here are my favorite recipes for you!

3 Ways to Cook Chicken Breasts From Frozen Header learn how I prep ALDI’s frozen chicken for a busy week

DIY Cold Brew Coffee from ALDI Ground Coffee learn how to make cold brew coffee from ALDI ground coffee or beans

10 Minute Fish Tacos Recipe header make these 10-minute tacos with ALDI frozen (or fresh) tilapia

Shrimp Boil from ALDI Shrimp put ALDI frozen shrimp & smoked sausage to work in this easy shrimp boil

3-Ingredient Instant Pot Ribs Recipe from MomAdvice.com make these 3-ingredient ribs with ALDI ribs & Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce

5-ingredient salmon sheet pan meal from MomAdvice.com get my 5-ingredient salmon sheet pan meal make with ALDI ingredients

How to Cook Quinoa in the Rice Cooker from MomAdvice.com I even bought a rice cooker from ALDI and prepare their quinoa with this easy method

Pumpkin Chili Recipe from MomAdvice.com grab pumpkin in the baking aisle and warm up with my ALDI pumpkin chili recipe

Pressure Cooker Italian Beef Roast from MomAdvice.com have a pressure cooker? this italian beef roast is how I prepare an ALDI chuck roast. It’s to die for!

once you try this ALDI ground beef taco filling, you’ll never prepare it any other way again!

Shrimp Fried Rice Recipe from MomAdvice.com leftover rice from ALDI can be made into this EASY fried rice with a few items from their freezer section

gluten-free meatloaf recipe the binding agent in this gluten-free meatloaf is potato flakes from ALDI.  say what?

chicken pesto frittata ALDI’s prepared pesto and diced chicken make the perfect filling for a hearty frittata

sheet pan ranch pork chops this sheet pan pork chop meal is all made from ALDI ingredients and a weeknight winner

lemon paprika chicken thighs once you try this method for cooking ALDI chicken thighs, you’ll rely on it again and again

Overnight Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal from MomAdvice.com learn how I turn my slow cooker into a double boiler to make creamy overnight apple oatmeal with ALDI steel cut oats

Meal Prep: Breakfast Sandwiches Recipe from MomAdvice.com make your own mcmuffins with this freezer-friendly ALDI recipe

 

 

Do you love ALDI as much as me? I’d love to hear what you think of this discount grocer!

11 Rom Coms for the Perfect Date Night

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

11 Rom Coms for the Perfect Date Night

Whether you are trying to avoid the crowds and freezing weather on Valentine’s Day, or just looking for the perfect low-key romance, here are some favorite romantic comedies for date night.

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

When my husband and I were first married, every trip to the video store (remember those) would end in a fight.

He wanted action; I wanted romance. Movies, I mean (although I suppose you could interpret that another way, accurately).

I’m not sure why I was so dead set on forcing him to watch every single romance or romantic comedy in existence, but I was.

Eventually, I realized this was not the healthiest pattern.

And also, as it turns out, I quite enjoy action movies myself.

Long story short?

We didn’t watch a lot of rom coms together for quite a while.

But recently, we’ve started something new.

After almost two decades of marriage, we’ve learned to compromise.

I’ll pause while you gasp in astonishment.

Seriously, though, over the past few years we’ve fought hard to fight less — and it involves a whole lot of compromise.

Of meeting in the middle.

Of me watching baseball movies and baseball documentaries and baseball games, and him watching people find true love in romantic comedies.

It’s been beautiful. (Except for the baseball games. Even my deep, abiding love of my husband can’t make me actually like baseball games.)

Anyway. All this means we can have legit movie date nights at home! (Yes, yes, I realize we could, in theory, watch an action or a drama at home. But, I don’t know, we just usually don’t.)

I realize this might seem silly to you.

Especially if you’re a movie date night at home pro.

But whether you and your husband snuggle on the couch to watch a movie every weekend or you’re new to this like we are, I’ve got a list of rom coms perfect for your date night at home.

All of these love stories are currently streaming, and each one should be a hit with both of you (no matter what genre each of you likes best)!

Check out my list and let me know what kind of movies you like watching with your husband!

11 Rom Coms for the Perfect Date Night

11 Rom Coms for the Perfect Date Night

11 Rom Coms for the Perfect Date Night

Set It Up

Set It Up – (Netflix)

Who knew Netflix could make their own sweet, funny romantic comedy?

This was the first one that caught a lot of attention and for good reason.

Snappy dialogue, charming leads, fun premise (two overworked corporate assistants set up their bosses and then make their own connection).

This is a good one! Stars Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell. Rated TV-14.

Always Be My Maybe

Always Be My Maybe – (Netflix)

Seriously, I wish Netflix would quit doing all the other things and just make rom coms.

Because this one is great, too!

Childhood friends hook up once, then don’t see each other for years.

They reconnect later when she’s a celebrity chef and he’s still living at home and working with his dad.

Also, the best Keanu cameo we didn’t know we needed.

Stars Ali Wong and Randall Park. Rated PG-13.

Before We Go

Before We Go – (Amazon Prime)

Two pretty people (including Chris Evans) meet in NYC and spend a night together.

No, not like that!

On an adventure!

It’s sweet.

And bittersweet.

Gah! I’ve said too much.

Just watch it.

Stars Alice Eve and Chris Evans. Rated PG-13.

Man Up

Man Up – (Netflix)

A woman takes the place of a man’s blind date.

Hijinks (and romance) ensue.

This one is so funny and surprisingly sweet.

I’m glad I took a chance on it (after assuming it would be bad, based on the poster and the actors).

Which is, coincidentally, similar to the journey these characters go on.

Stars Lake Bell and Simon Pegg. Rated R for language.

What If

What If – (Amazon Prime)

I wasn’t sure I could see Daniel Radcliffe as anyone other than Harry Potter.

As it turns out, I sure can.

This movie asks the notorious question: Can men and women just be friends? (No. Not in the movies, duh.)

Stars Daniel Racliffe and Zoe Kazan. Rated PG-13.

Plus One

Plus One – (Hulu) 

Longtime friends decide to be each other’s dates to a bunch of weddings.

If you think you know how this ends, you’re probably right, but the getting there is interesting and funny and moving.

Stars Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid. Rated R for language and sex. 

(Another movie with a strangely similar plot is The Wedding Year (Amazon Prime). Stars Sarah Hyland and Tyler James Williams. Rated R for language and drug use.)

Hitch

Hitch – (Netflix)

Why not kick it old school with this classic from 2005?

A dating consultant falls for a reporter who doesn’t know who he really is.

Also, Kevin James dances. It’s all so adorable, really.

Stars Eva Mendes and Will Smith. Rated PG-13.

Date Night

Date Night – (Amazon Prime)

If the grind of middle-age and suburban life is your stage of life, this one will probably resonate with you as much as it does with me.

They just wanted a date night, man!

Comedy, action, and sweet married romance.

Stars Tina Fey and Steve Carell. Rated PG-13.

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society – (Netflix)

If you and your husband prefer something historical, this is a great one!

Is it as good as the book?

No, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess your husband hasn’t read it.

So just sit back and enjoy it as a completely separate and completely sweet story about a writer who connects with the people of a small island following World War II.

Stars Lily James and Michiel Huisman. Rated TV-14.

Isn't It Romantic

Isn’t It Romantic? – (HBO through Hulu or Prime)

A single woman hits her head and wakes up in a romantic comedy, but it turns out that life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

This had the potential to be simply silly, but if you’ve ever questioned how love-able you are, this will be as meaningful to you as it was to me.

Also, you don’t want to miss the musical scenes in this comedy!

Stars Rebel Wilson and Adam Devine. Rated PG-13.

Second Act

Second Act  (SHOWTIME through Hulu or Prime)

A working class woman fakes her way into a high-level executive job and both finds herself and loses herself in the process.

This was surprisingly emotional, and the romance isn’t the main part of the story, but it’s all very sweet (and funny, too).

Plus it stars two of my very favorites: Jennifer Lopez and Milo Ventimiglia. Rated PG-13.

Those are my suggestions. I’d love to hear which movies you love watching on date nights! And for more romantic comedies you might not have seen yet, you can find a longer list on my blog

What’s your favorite rom com for date night?

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Looking for some more fun Date Nights? Check out these ideas:

9 Frugal Date Nights MomAdvice.com

9 Simple Ideas for Frugal Date Nights

How to Create Date Night Playlist MomAdvice.com

How to Create and Anniversary or Date Night Playlist

9 Spring Dates for Any Budget MomAdvice.com

9 Spring Date Ideas for Any Budget

5 Movie Date in 10 Days MomAdvice.com

What I Learned from 5 Movie Dates in 10 Days

Happy Valentine’s Day!

11 Rom Coms for the Perfect Date Night

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5 Minute Craft: Burlap Pom Pom Tutorial

Monday, January 27th, 2020

5 Minute Craft: Burlap Pom Pom Tutorial Header

 

This fast burlap craft couldn’t be easier. With just five minutes, you can make these pom pom flowers for wreaths, gifts, or to make into a burlap pom pom garland. Use this tutorial to make your own with burlap or your favorite wired ribbon. This is a perfect kids craft idea or for the beginner crafter in you!

This is that weird time of year, after Christmas, when I’m looking for craft ideas to fill those empty spots in our home.  I decided that it would be wonderful to have a little nod to Valentine’s Day with a new wreath for our front door.

I wanted to create something unique this year so I went to my button jar to see if I had anything to incorporate into a piece for our home.

Vintage Jewelry for Burlap Pom Poms

Vintage Jewelry for Burlap Pom Pom Flowers

Years ago, my grandmother had shared some of my great-grandma’s costume jewelry with me because she thought I might enjoy crafting with it.

In that stash, were numerous gorgeous clip-on earrings that would make the perfect centers for flowers.

Crafting is so much more special with a little history blended in, isn’t it?

Today I’m showing off this easy 5 minute craft to make burlap and ribbon pom pom flowers to adorn a wreath in your house.

I’ll share my full burlap wreath tutorial for you tomorrow, but to get started, you will need to whip up a few of these easy burlap flowers.

5 Minute Craft: Burlap Pom Poms Tutorial

(don’t forget to download the Rakuten app to save on craft supplies- read all about it or just sign up here and get $10 of your first purchase)

Supplies Needed:

2 ⅜” Wide Burlap Ribbon (this is linked to exactly what I bought or search for your own favorite colors)

2 ½” Wired Buffalo Plaid Ribbon (this is linked to exactly what I bought or search for your own favorite pattern)

Tape Measure

Cotton Twine

Embroidery Needle

Hot Glue Gun

Glue Sticks

Vintage Buttons or Vintage Jewelry for Flower Centers

Scissors

Directions for Burlap Pom Poms (or Ribbon Pom Poms):

Cutting Burlap for Pom Pom

Measure 3 feet of burlap ribbon and cut with your scissors.

Cotton Twine for Burlap Pom Pom Flower

Cut a foot of cotton twine. Knot one end, leaving a generous tail, and thread your embroidery needle on the other end of the twine.

Starting the Twine for Burlap Pom Pom Flower

Threading the Twine for Burlap Pom Pom Flower

Fold the rough edge down and then start your running stitch just a little past the tail of the burlap. The reason we are doing this is because it has a tendency to fray and we want to start with a clean line.

Stitching a Burlap Pom Pom Flower

Now we will be doing stitches down the length of the edge.

Gathering Stitches for Burlap Pom Pom Flower

You can feed these individually, or make it quicker by threading back-and-forth and grabbing multiple stitches at a time.

Once you get to the end, remove your embroidery needle.

Threading Twine Through Burlap Pom Pom

Bunching Up Stitches for Burlap Pom Pom

Bunching Up Stitches for Burlap Pom Pom

Now comes the fun part.

Grab the end of the twine (that once held your embroidery needle) and start pulling so the burlap bunches up and starts creating the pom-pom look we are after.

I also like to pull the opposite end to really bring these two sides together into shape.

5 Minute Craft: Burlap Pom Pom Tutorial

5 Minute Craft: Burlap Pom Pom Tutorial

Finishing Burlap Pom Pom With Vintage Jewelry

Now you can see exactly where your center will go to your burlap flower.

Apply your button or jewelry piece to the center of the burlap with a little hot glue.

Finished Back of Burlap Pom Pom

Finish by cleaning up the tails on the back of your pom pom.

For tomorrow’s wreath, we will leave these tails so we can secure these to our wreath.

If you are tying these to something, for example, you’ll just want to leave these tails on.

Prefer to make a pom pom flower out of ribbon? This same technique works with your favorite ribbon.

Starting a Ribbon Pom Pom

For this one, I used 4 feet of ribbon instead.

You can play around with the lengths too. There is no wrong way to do this fun craft.

I picked this buffalo plaid and found the pattern also helped me with spacing out those stitches evenly.

Ribbon Pom Pom Flower

You will do everything the exact same way, but it yields two different texture textures for your pieces.

I will say that I do prefer a wired ribbon because it gives you the ability to fan it out and allow it to really hold its shape.

Finished Ribbon Pom Pom

5 Minute Craft: Burlap Pom Pom Finished

How fun are these?

I hope you love this tutorial as much as me!

Tomorrow I will share how I used these beauties in my wreath for Valentine’s Day!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

As a RewardStyle affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Looking for more burlap or pom-pom crafts? I’ve got you covered!

how to make an autumn burlap wreath from momadvice.com learn to make a ruffled burlap wreath

The Easiest Burlap Wreath You Will Ever Make from MomAdvice.com learn how to make a burlap wreath that you can switch out for the seasons

pom pom flower bouquets learn how to make a yarn pom pom with this pom pom bouquet tutorial

How to Make a Yarn Pom Pom Wreath from MomAdvice.com craft up pom poms for this viral anthropologie inspired pom pom wreath

Happy crafting, friends!

5 Minute Craft: Burlap Pom Pom Tutorial Header

 

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

How to Spray Paint Furniture Header

Some of my absolute favorite transformations in our home have come from simple paint – it’s amazing the difference it can make! Spray paint dries quickly and creates a beautiful satin finish. Check out this picture tutorial on how to get that high gloss look with a touch of antique glazing.

Painting furniture can be time consuming that is why I have fallen in love with spray painting my furniture to get a fresh new look with a small time investment.

Today I am going to show you how to spray paint your furniture to give an old piece in your home a new lease on life with just spray paint and an easy antiquing and distressing technique.

How to Spray Paint Furniture Paint

Choosing a spray paint can be a lot of fun!

For this project I chose the Rust-Oleum American Accents Ultra Cover 2X paint.

The thing that makes this paint special is that it can cover twice the square footage of other general purpose spray paints.

This new paint contains 44% more solids which creates a higher performance than other paints and gives you better coverage with fewer passes.

What makes the paint economical is that one can performs like two cans, so it saves you time and money.

The price also fits nicely into a DIY’ers budget at a mere $3.87 per can

How_To_Spray_Paint_Furniture_1
I love this corner in our office, but have not loved this side table for many years.

These chairs are so fun, but the table added no personality to this corner. I had planned to donate it to Goodwill, but I wondered if I could give this piece a spray paint face lift that would reflect this fun space.

I decided to give the table a makeover with a little spray paint and antiquing.

Check out my video tutorial and picture tutorial for spray painting wood furniture below.

 

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Supplies Needed to Spray Paint Furniture


Spray Paint Primer (gray if doing a dark color or white if doing a light color)

1-2 Cans Rust-Oleum American Accents Ultra Cover 2X, any shade (I am using Moss Green)- make sure the one you choose is a spray paint for wood

Rust-Oleum Standard Spray Grip

Rust-Oleum Decorative Glaze in Java Brown

Sander

Sand Paper

Rags

Hardware (optional) or spray paint to paint it

Spray Painting Furniture Paint Supplies

 

How to Spray Paint Your Furniture

To begin, prepare your surface by wiping the entire piece down with a clean cloth. Disassemble any drawers and hardware to prepare it for painting.

How to Spray Paint Furniture Sanding

How to Spray Paint Furniture Sanding

How to Spray Paint Furniture Sanding Next, give the entire piece a good sanding to smooth out any imperfections. Sand any edges with a piece of sandpaper and use a sander to smooth the top of your piece. IT is important to take your time when you sand your furniture, so you have a great base for painting.

Once the piece is fully sanded, wipe it down with a damp cloth to prepare it for priming.

How to Spray Paint Furniture Invert Piece

To help prevent drips and to make sure we get into every crevice of this piece with paint, we are going to start with our piece INVERTED.

I promise, it is going to help the painting process go so much smoother than if you start with it upright.

How to Spray Paint Furniture Priming

Starting with your piece inverted, begin spray painting it with your primer. Be sure to be in a well ventilated area and give your primer a good shake to begin priming your surface well.

Hold your can 8 inches away from your surface and spray your primer in a sweeping motion side to side with a slight overlap. Allow the primer to dry for one hour.

How to Spray Paint Furniture Priming

How to Spray Paint Furniture Priming

Put the piece right side up and finish priming the top. Allow the primer to dry for one hour.

How to Spray Paint Furniture Painting

How to Spray Paint Furniture Painting

How to Spray Paint Furniture Paint Drying

Repeat the same process with your choice of Rust-Oleum American Accents Ultra Cover 2X in your favorite shade. Once the piece is fully painted, allow it to dry overnight before glazing.

How to Spray Paint Furniture Distressing

How to Spray Paint Furniture Distressing

How to Spray Paint Furniture Distressing

Using a coarse sandpaper, begin roughing up the edges on your piece to create a more antique look. Be sure to distress those edges so your antique glaze has somewhere to go!

How to Spray Paint Furniture Antique Glazing

How to Spray Paint Furniture Antiquing

How to Spray Paint Furniture Antique Glaze

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Using a clean rag, dip your rag in your glaze and then begin applying in a circular motion to your piece.

With a clean and damp cloth, remove as much of the glaze as you would like. I again, removed this in a circular motion from the piece until it added a hint of variation to the piece, but didn’t look sponged.

How to Spray Paint Furniture Hardware

How to Spray Paint Furniture Hardware

If you desire, you can spray paint your hardware. As you know hardware can be expensive to replace and sometimes older pieces have more custom fitting hardware so spray paint can be a great way to freshen it up.

We chose to replace the wooden handle with a black hardware piece and then spray painted the old gold accessories black with a can I had in my craft supplies.

How to Spray Paint Furniture Hardware Black

How to Spray Paint Furniture Hardware Black

We have spray painted many a handle in our home and you would never know it wasn’t that color originally.

Be sure to let this FULLY DRY before you slide those drawers back in!
How to Spray Paint Furniture

How to Spray Paint Furniture

How to Spray Paint Furniture

How to Spray Paint Furniture

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Here is my finished piece.

I am so darn proud of it and love how vintage this piece looks thanks to the glazing and sanding process that I did on it.

In full disclosure, there were some missteps along the way.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Temperature Changes Effect Spray Paint

If you live in Indiana, you know that the drops and changes in temperature can be quite dramatic and that is just what happened when I painted this.

I put a final coat on my perfect table before I went to bed and woke up to a table and drawers that had bubbled in the night.

Try to pick a time of day when the temperature is warmer and will hold steady (nothing below fifty degrees) to prevent bubbling of paint.

I used the advice provided by Kate, at Centsational Girl, on what to do if your spray paint bubbles and it worked like a charm.

Shake Your Spray Paint Can Well

Having that handy trigger on the spray paint makes it easy to paint quickly, but I forgot to shake the can every so often to keep my paint looking even and glossy.

You definitely will want to make sure you shake it very well at the beginning, and shake it every so often when painting with it.

Who Knew You Needed to Be So Tidy?

Make sure after sanding that you really have a nice clear surface to begin your painting, otherwise you will have a crummy surface…literally.

The same can be said for choosing a nice clean rag when doing glazing and keeping the piece as clean as you can, which is super difficult if you are in your filthy garage like me!

Distressing Can Hide Flaws

Distressing the piece more not only helped me minimize the bubbles, but it also added character to the piece.

For my first spray painted furniture piece, I would definitely recommend it the first time to help you get the hang of how to paint with spray paint.

Practice Makes Perfect

This piece isn’t my best work, but I love it in spite of its flaws.

As with all skills, it takes a little practice to get the hang of spray painting furniture.

Even though I struggled a bit with my first project, I can’t wait to paint my record cabinet in our office next in the same shade and now I know what to do and what NOT to do when it comes to spray painting my furniture.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

How to Spray Paint Furniture

How to Spray Paint Furniture

 

What a difference a day makes?

Isn’t she lovely?

She has certainly brightened up this corner of our home!

I highly recommend giving this new paint a try!

Fast coverage and an inexpensive way to add a pop of color in your home!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

This post contains affiliate links.

Looking for more ways to refresh your living space?

Check out these other great DIY projects for your home!

 

How to Paint a Kitchen Table

How To Paint a Kitchen Table

 

How to Stain Furniture

How To Easily Stain Wood Furniture

 

How to Reupholster Chairs

 

Happy painting, friends!

How to Spray Paint Furniture

How to Spray Paint Furniture Antique Glazing

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Mint.com: Find the Hidden Leaks in Your Budget

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

Mint.com: Find the Hidden Leaks in Your Budget Header

Are you looking for easy ways to earn extra cash for your family? Today I’m sharing budgeting apps that can help you reset for your financial future. This tutorial shares all about the Mint app and a creative robo tool option to reduce your recurring expenses.

This is the third challenge in our Passive Income for Busy Moms series because SAVED money is EARNED money. Be sure to visit our Passive Income Ideas for Moms Series all year long as I challenge myself to find new ways to earn money for our family.

Now that the holidays are over, I am sure that many of us have made resolutions to restore the order in our financial life.

Here is the honest truth. I am an incredible saver of money, but I am terrible about tracking our family expenses.

As a busy mom, this is just one more ball that I have to keep in the air.

While some might not consider analyzing the budget a passive income builder, I am here to beg to differ.

One deep dive into your finances, should indicate hidden leaks in the budgeting boat, that often drain your account month after month.

While I have been terrible about tracking, my husband has done a great job keeping up with our complete financial picture and alerts me when he sees questionable charges on our account.

It shouldn’t be just his job to save money though, especially since I handle the majority of our day-to-day expenses.

After reviewing loads of apps and trying them out, we are still keeping our feet firmly planted in Mint.com, to track our expenses.

Not only is this a program that I trust to help me be my best financial self, it is also a free app that becomes an effortless money manager once your accounts are connected.

Mint App on Phone

Mint.com: Find the Hidden Leaks in Your Budget

What is Mint And How Can It Help Me?

Mint is an app (available on Android or Apple devices) that you can use to manage your family finances. Mint is currently owned by Intuit that makes many of the financial products that we use for our family and business. You may be more familiar with their other products like TurboTax & QuickBooks.

All that is to say is that it is a familiar company which helps me feel more secure.

While tracking your expenses is an important element of the app, you will also discover lots of other benefits.

Some of my favorites are free access to your credit score (at all times with no penalties), tools to help you establish a budget (that becomes more intuitive with your spending habits), pie charts that illustrate where the heck your money is going, an up-to-date property estimate (through past sales in your area on Zillow), your total net worth, and it easily monitors your investments.

With all of our accounts linked, we now know EXACTLY what we have and where we stand with our retirement.

How many people can say that they know their exact dollar worth down to the cent?

Why is Mint Free?

Mint works just like most online businesses, including the site you are visiting right now.

Mint partners with different companies to offer you additional ways to save. When scanning through the product offers, the majority of these are credit card offers. Additionally, if you want to explore investing, they have partnerships with brokerages that can help you.

Credit Card Offer Disclosures

Here is an example of a credit card offer that is displayed on my page.

You can see the exact disclosure statements that are attached to the offer.

In an online world where transparency isn’t always given, I think they do a great job letting you know that they are benefiting from the exploration of the services they offer.

With over 20 million users, I am sure that many take advantage of these offers and that is what allows your account to be free. Each transaction yields a compensation that pays the company.

Is Mint Safe?

There are tons of budgeting apps (paid and free) and you can’t always know if your information will be safe. I did a lot of research on the security of Mint and found that this article was really helpful in explaining how Mint keeps your data safe.

Most of the top financial gurus would back that Mint is a really secure option for anyone who does not want to go the spreadsheet route.

They do use a multi factor authentication that is explained well in their terms of service.

Will I Be Penalized for Accessing My Credit Report on Mint?

Having access to a free credit score is amazing, but will there be a penalty to have this information readily available to you?

The good news is NO.

According to the Mint site, when you check your credit score, you are performing what is called a soft credit check. This credit inquiry won’t impact your credit, no matter how frequently you view your credit score.

This means you can check your credit score as many times as you like without a penalty.

They also offer you the option to be alerted, via push notification, when your credit score drops.

How Can I Get Started With Mint?

It only takes about ten to fifteen minutes to link your Mint account to your financial institution.

Once you have your bank account linked, you can begin plugging in additional information like any other bank accounts, credit cards, debit cards, investments you have made and more.

Once everything is plugged in, you can see EXACTLY where your money is going and your account balances. Mint will do its best to set up the proper category for you, but it will require you to review each of the transactions to make sure it is in the proper category.

This clear snapshot allows you to form a budget for your family.

Mint observes your spending habits and provides an approximate on the cap of each category that you should spend.

Ideally, you can set your own budget and try to narrow down expenses.

What I Earned From One Month With Ellevest from MomAdvice.com learn all about ellevest by clicking here

I Signed Up With Ellevest Last Month. Can I Connect My Ellevest Account to Mint?

Good news! You, absolutely, can connect your Ellevest account to Mint so you can monitor your investment.

Also, can I just say how proud I am of you if you started your own investment account. #girlboss

To view your Ellevest Digital/Premium goals on your account aggregator (like Mint.com)- read it all here:

  1. You must be an Ellevest Client – You need to have eSigned on the Ellevest Dashboard to get this process started.
  2. Find your Folio login and create a password. To find your Folio username, log into your Ellevest Dashboard, click the user icon in the top right-hand corner, and select Login from the dropdown menu – you will see your Folio login at the bottom of the page. You’ll also see a link to instructions on how to create your Folio password – if you’re having issues, send us a note.
  3. Look up Folio Investing. Folio is the broker/dealer and custodian for your Ellevest account, and Folio Investing will be the company name you’ll need to search for.

Push Notifications on Mint.com

I’ve Got Everything Plugged In, But How Can I Reduce My Expenses With Mint?

Once Mint has all your financial information, it can use this financial data to send you notifications when potentially problematic issues arise.

This is done through push notifications that you check that you would like to receive. These notifications include spending alerts, credit score updates, bill reminders, and a quick summary of how you are doing.

Should you need financial advice, it can offer that too.

You can adjust how many and how often you receive these push notifications in your Settings panel.

Utilizing tools like these will help you stay in tune to your spending habits and reduce late fees on potential bills.

I plan to take this a step further though to find all of the hidden leaks in our budget:

Recurring charges- Have you ever signed up for a 30-day trial of something, only to realize that you never cancelled it? Do you have any recurring charges for services or apps that you don’t ever use? I plan to find any hidden leaks and cancel these accounts.

Reduce grocery spending- Holy heck, we have been spending A LOT of money on groceries. I plan to try to reduce this expense immediately by being more intentional about what we are eating and cooking from scratch more.

Reduce the dining out- We are a bit snobby about food and that has not helped our budget AT ALL. Fortunately, I can cook and plan to master a few of our restaurant faves so we can reduce this expense more by eating at home.

Analyze our standard household expenses- Are we *really* getting the best deals on home insurance, auto insurance, internet, and our mobile services? I, honestly, don’t know, but this month I plan to investigate.

Trim Financial Services Review

One Last Option To Try- Robo Tools for Adjusting Your Bills For You…With Some Disclaimers

As I was researching for our Passive Income for Busy Moms series, I stumbled upon a service called Trim.

Trim is, basically, a bot service that negotiates rates, on your behalf, to lower your payments. You, basically, give them permission to act on your behalf and see if they can secure your family savings.

I set them to work on our expenses so I could give you a personal review of their services.

Our Comcast internet bill was $80 a month.

Trim sent me a text that they were able to get a fee refund (of $2.32) and they also applied for a promotion for $9.95 off for 12 months.

That is a savings of $119.40 over the course of the year.

What’s in it for Trim? Well, they take 33% of the savings they get on the bill. We were immediately charged $40.17, but we still ended up saving $79 for the year.

They also were able to flag a few things that were monthly charges that we may not want to continue spending money on.

The best part was that they also sent cancellation requests for you so you don’t have to add it to your to-do list.

If you have a lot of personal debt, it also can negotiate credit card rates and they offer premium services, to utilize a financial coach, to reduce your debt and get you on a better path.

You Saved Money with Trim. Why The Disclaimers Then?

I went through a lot of reviews and complaints on BBB, which is why I did not dedicate a separate post to this.

Many people were disheartened about the charges after the bill negotiation (which I think they are pretty clear about) and some people felt that their established services rose in cost in the months that followed.

There were also complaints filed that they could not discontinue services when signing up for premium membership plans.

For that reason, I also signed up with their premium membership, waited a month, and then canceled it.

The cancellation went through with no hitches at all.

I have not had any bills raised since I used the service and I was really happy with the savings of almost $80.

That said, if you are nervous about a bot negotiating for you, start investigating the current deals and contact the cable, phone, and internet company to see if you can get your bills lowered.

After all, the worst they can say is no.

Join My January Passive Income Challenge

Sign up for a Mint account (or similar budgeting app platform) and link your accounts.

Once you have your expenses categorized, reflect on your past expenses and habits.

Decide what your new 2020 budget will look like and check in daily to see how you are doing.

Consider canceling any recurring expenses that aren’t benefiting your family anymore. Do this by contacting companies directly or utilize a bot tool to reduce some of your basic expenses. Be sure to ask about loyalty plans, if there are plans that make more sense for your family (based on usage), or see if you can get discounts if you are requesting to cancel services.

I can’t wait to see what you are able to save with your new habits! 

Think of this as this month’s paycheck for all your hard work! 

Love this post? Here are a few others you might love!

Passive Revenue Ideas for Busy Moms from MomAdvice.com passive revenue ideas for busy moms

Earn Money With Rakuten Cash Back Offers from MomAdvice.com earn money through rakuten cash back

Real Rakuten Results Cash Back Earnings Report from MomAdvice.com do you really earn money with rakuten?

how to invest in yourself with ellevest

What I Earned From One Month With Ellevest from MomAdvice.com what I earned from one month with ellevest

 

Don’t forget to follow along on our Passive Income Challenge series. You can head here to see all the posts in one place. Have you used Mint for your budget before or do you use another budget app service? I’d love to hear your experience with budgeting apps today! 

Mint.com Find the Hidden Leaks in Your Budget

 

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How to Make a Homeless Care Package (Free Printable Supplies List)

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

How to Make Homeless Care Packages from MomAdvice.com

Blessing bags for the homeless are such a beautiful act of kindness for those in need. Today’s post will show you how to make homeless kits for those in need. These hygiene kits are handy to keep in your car, for those that live on the street, or can be given as gift bags for your local homeless shelter. Be sure to print out our free printable supplies list for your homeless care kit.

One thing that you may not know about our family is that we are really passionate about caring for the homeless.

Creating a homeless care package (also known as a Blessing Bag) can be one fantastic way that your entire family can be involved in caring for those in need.

Today we want to provide a checklist of supplies for the homeless bags, a local resources sheet you can print out (if you are in our area), and some tips for involving the whole family in this project.

After all, homeless gift bags are a great idea to help teach your children kindness.

These homeless packs have been replicated by so many people and are the perfect activity for volunteer organizations you may be part of.

By involving others, you can alleviate some of the expenses by asking everyone to bring the materials to craft these bags.

Distribute the list and allow each attendee to bring travel size items, food, socks or bags to help the homeless in your area.

How to Make Homeless Care Packages from MomAdvice.com

I also appreciate that these homeless care packages can be prepared for your local shelters or kept tucked away in the trunk of your car for those you may see on the street looking for your help.

I love feeling armed in these situations and these kits are a simple way to show how much you care.

Over the past couple of years, I have also had the opportunity to work at our local food bank and food pantry. What many people don’t realize is that many of these items cannot be purchased using food stamps.

Items that are not food (like toothpaste, paper products, deodorant, shampoo, toothbrushes, etc…) are not eligible and that is why these items are often in high demand at church community pantries.

It is why these are the items that I choose to donate to our shelter each year.

How to Make a Homeless Care Package from MomAdvice.com

I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t tell you that my husband inspires me every day with his giving heart. Last winter, he was coming home late from work because he would see people in need and run to stores to get them supplies and gift cards.

That is his heart.

That is why I love him.

If there is one thing I firmly believe in, it is that giving should be a family affair.

We have to lead our children by our example.

I want my children to remember that what made our family special is that we always gave with our whole hearts.

My kids assisted in every aspect of this project.

My son came with me and did the number crunching on a good old-fashioned calculator, my daughter helped sort and organize all of the items we bought, and both kids helped fill the bags with all of the necessary items.

Here Are My 3 Essential Elements to a Great Homeless Care Package

Feed Their Needs

One of the greatest gifts you can give to someone who is homeless is personal hygiene items and food to nourish their bodies.

Begin by picking up items that will satisfy this area in their life first.

Simple items like shampoo, a razor, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a bar of soap, and tissues are all great items to keep on hand.

Food like granola bars, crackers with peanut butter, beef jerky, trail mixes, dried fruits, and a bottle of water are also great items to tuck into your bags.

If you have the funds, small denominator gift cards (we did $5 Walmart gift cards) can also be great to give so that they can pick up a meal or item(s) they might need.

How to Make Homeless Care Packages from MomAdvice.com

Provide Warmth

We live in Indiana and the winters here are brutal for homeless people.

I can’t imagine how cold it would be to stand on the streets without the proper items

I need for warmth.

Add items like thermal boot socks, gloves, scarves, and hats to your gift bags.

Items like these may seem out of your financial reach, but I found all of these at the dollar store and the sets of gloves were a mere $.50 each.

Feed Their Souls

I am sure it goes without saying, but feeding someone’s soul is just as important as feeding their needs.

You can feed their souls in a variety of ways depending on your families beliefs and resources.

We created a local resources list (available for local residents to download) that they can tap into for further resources in our town.

A note that lets them know that they are on your prayer list, a note of encouragement by your children, or a scripture that you find comforting can also be excellent additions.

If these are not enough ideas, I encourage you to spend a bit of time browsing through the comments on this post.

Many people regularly volunteer at their shelters and food banks and have some great ideas to help.

Please also know, that we are real people (sometimes that doesn’t seem that way on the website, am I right?) and we did OUR personal best to put these together so we appreciate your KIND words on this post and definitely encourage you to share your own must-have items in a care package while being respectful of others in these comment threads.

How Do I Order My Homeless Care Package Supplies in Bulk?

Did you know that you can purchase items from Dollar Tree IN BULK.

Looking to save even more? Consider using this incredible rebates app to get cash back on ALL your holiday purchases.

We were able to place a bulk order with Dollar Tree and pick up the items we needed for these kits from our local store.

Don’t have room in your car?

No worries!

They can ship all the items directly to you.

How cool is that?

What Our Readers Suggest Adding to Your Hygiene Kits for the Homeless

I love seeing what contributions YOU recommend for these packs! Here are some of my favorites you shared!

“My husband and I travel a lot when he’s working on contract.

I save all the little complimentary shampoos, conditions, soaps, etc and when I have quite a few saved, I sew up pretty drawstring bags, divide the items I’ve save between the bags and then donate them to our local women’s shelter.

I’ve also started adding toothpastes and toothbrushes that I purchase to the bags.

Many times women arrive with nothing but the clothes on their back and this way they can be given their own personal care kit. I make each bag different so that they don’t feel like they are getting something that is assembly line, but something that was made just for them.”

“Many homeless also have dogs.

Perhaps you could add some things like treats, small pouches or pop-top cans of food, grooming supplies and toys.

And with the winter months coming, both owner and pet need to stay warm and dry…some large trash bags to put on the ground to keep from getting wet and even colder.

And I have seen fleece throws just recently at Walmart for like $2!”

“I currently make and deliver hot chocolate to a few homeless people I see on my way home from work (I work in downtown Chicago) and I pass out cold cans of pop in the summer.

I also make plates of food from leftovers after work luncheons and pass them out after work. (I don’t consider this stealing because I know that by 4:30 anything left in the kitchen will be thrown away.) I

know it isn’t not much, It won’t make a huge difference in the world, but it might make a world of difference to the person I’m helping.

Thanks for the list. I’m glad to see there are others out there who are concerned for the homeless and actually do something about it.

I hope the care package(s) I pass out, make the receiver(s) feel loved, thought of and cared for.”

“This is a wonderful idea! I got so excited when I saw this-I immediately began to think of other items that might be added, such a bar of soap or bottle of body wash, plastic glass and mug, plastic cutlery and plate, tissues, pen and notebook, small clock, personal wipes, instant oatmeal packets, instant soup packets, hot chocolate packets, instant noodle packets, towel, facecloth, thermal blanket, and in the summer, a sun hat, sunscreen, inexpensive umbrella and a fly swatter!

Many of these things can be found on sale, at Walmart, and the dollar store. They don’t have to be bought all at once and do lend themselves as a project for a family, like yourselves, or amongst a group of friends, a Sunday School class, a school class or a Brownie troop.”

“You might also check with your school district if they have children.

All our local schools have a homeless liaison who works to get food, clothing and housing for homeless families.”

“I regularly carry around coupon books from various restaurants, but this goes even further.”

“As truck drivers, my husband and I see many people standing on the exit ramps of the interstate highways.

We give ziplock bags with toiletries, (in a separate bag) and foods like you mentioned, plus single serve packages of oatmeal, grits, hot cocoa, ect. I add pack of sugar, jelly, peanut butter, plasticware, napkins, whatever we get from the take out and fast food restaurants.

I also pick up dollar store gloves, hats, socks, ect. We have added stamped postcards, Christmas cards and candy canes in season.

Notepads and pens are welcomed as are throws we get at thrift stores.

We were giving the gift books from the fast food places, but now they’ve gone to gift cards.

Chapstick is a good idea, as are deodorants, comb, sanitary items for the women, (yes, we see homeless women and children too).

We give small toys, stickers and tattoos for the kids. We stay in motels a lot and always ask housekeeping for extras.”

“I love this post. I am in the middle of coordinating a SOCKS party here in Nashville.

We are getting the big, thermal socks, and filling them with different items for the homeless.

We’ve been fortunate to have my dentist donate the toothpaste and floss, and McDonald’s donated 1,000 Cards for a free dollar menu item.

We also have tons of shampoo, conditioner, and soaps from hotels.

We’ll stuff it with snacks, hand warmers, and other items (many on your list).

We are getting together for our SOCK party and letting the kids stuff the socks and make the tags, which will say “I care”.

The kids are excited and I love what it’s teaching them. Thanks for inspiring others to give back!”

Aren’t my readers incredible? Just think of the possibilities with this one!

God has been so good to us, but 10 years ago we were in a very different place than where we are now.

My husband was unemployed for almost an entire year, our financial situation was a house of cards, and my heart was in a bad place.

Although I don’t like to admit it, I wondered what my purpose on this earth even was.

I never have forgotten that dark place and it is why we still try to be so careful with the resources we have been given and why I have such a tender place in my heart for those who are struggling.

If you would like to read more about it, I encourage you to read my book where I share how we recovered from this difficult financial period in our life.

Being careful though doesn’t mean that you can’t be a giver.

There are fantastic ways to give, both big and small, around the holidays.

Be sure to check our list of ten painless ways to give back to charities to help you get started.

I call these smaller ways to give the, “scraps of life giving.” I have talked a lot about that with my partnership with Pure Charity as well!

We want to help you give back to your community! Here are some resources to do just that!

Grab our Free Homeless Supply Checklist for your your care packages.

Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

Grab our Local Resources List for your care packages (if you don’t live in Michiana, you can use this as a template for your own sheet)! Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

Looking for more great ways to give back? Here are a few other great ideas!

diy no sew hand warmers

cabled ear warmer pattern diy cabled ear warmers

diy chunky knit blanket pattern

How do you give back in your community? How do you teach your kids to be givers?

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

this post contains affiliate links.

How to Make a Homeless Care Package from MomAdvice.com

How to Make Homeless Care Packages from MomAdvice.com

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What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

What I Earned From One Month With Ellevest from MomAdvice.com

 

Are you looking for an easy way to start investing? Robo investing might be the perfect option for you and I am sharing the scoop on what I learned from investing with Ellevest.  Today I’m sharing what I really earned and about the process of getting an account started as we explore passive income money making opportunities for moms. Be sure to visit our entire Passive Income Ideas for Moms Series all year long as I challenge myself to find new ways to earn money for our family. 

I can’t believe that we have another month behind us in our Passive Income Ideas for Moms series.  I have been SO thrilled to get so many messages and comments from women who have been taking this challenge with me and are feeling empowered to start investing in themselves.

Today I get to reveal the results from my month of investing with Ellevest.

Honestly, as exciting as it was to share with you about Rakuten, I was ten times more excited to start my first portfolio with some of my earnings from MomAdvice. 

If you have been intimidated by the investment process (*raises hand*) I think you will be really happy to hear how easy this was and how incredibly thankful I am that I started doing this.

What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest from MomAdvice.com

(click here to get $20 to start your Ellevest portfolio today)

What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest

What is Ellevest?

Ellevest is a woman-owned company that focuses on building investment portfolios. What makes it unique is that they have something called an, “Impact Portfolio,”  that allow you to invest in stocks that support women in business.

This is a robo advisor tool that makes investing easy and also doesn’t cost the consumer an arm and a leg.

Robo advisors (also known as automated investing services or online advisors) use computer algorithms and advanced software to create an investment portfolio for you.

They are referred to as robo because this is mostly an automated process that requires little to no human interaction.

This translates into cost-savings for you because they are using these automated tools to build your portfolio.

The biggest difference between this company and other companies is that their focus is on wealth-building for women by investing in other women.

They call these portfolios, “Impact Portfolios,” because you are making a positive impact on women.

Pretty cool, right?

For an Impact Portfolio, they use these three key criterias in selecting your investments:

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP

Funds investing in companies with more women leaders and policies that advance women.

SUSTAINABLE, ACCOUNTABLE COMPANIES

Funds investing in companies working to meet  for sustainability and ethical practices.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Funds providing loans to support women-owned businesses and companies that provide community services – child education, performing arts, and housing and care for seniors and individuals in need.

They also realize that women have different life spans than men and they adjust your retirement requirements accordingly.

Want to learn even more about Ellevest? Be sure to read this introductory article to Ellevest that includes a really awesome interview with the Ellevest CEO, Sallie Krawcheck!

How Much Did I Invest This Month with Ellevest?

Just as a reminder, there is no minimum balance to open your account!

I decided to set up a one-time deposit of $2,000 into this account and then set up automatic deposits of $300 monthly into my wealth-building account. 

I also wanted to create a little vacation fund for us so I have $50 going into a one-time splurge account that we will be able to earn some money on while we save. 

Just as a reminder, I did work one month ahead so I could walk you through the process of setting up an account.

Technically, I invested $300 in my wealth-building account and $50 into our splurge account for the month of November.

Investment Goals with Ellevest

What Types of Accounts Did I Invest in With Our Money?

Ellevest is set up in a simple goal-oriented format that, basically, allow you to set up buckets for investing. 

Anyone who has been a fan of the envelope system for savings will appreciate this. Basically, it is a virtual envelope system to invest in yourself.

I selected their Impact Portfolio over their Core Portfolio because my goal is to have a great retirement…while lifting up other women.

Choosing this portfolio allowed me to do both those things. 

I also created a splurge fund to put towards a future family vacation.

Was It Easy to Earn Money Through Ellevest?

YES, this is SO easy because you are putting your investing on automatic. 

Once you set up those goals for your account, you tell Ellevest what day of the month you would like your automatic withdrawal to happen and that’s it.

I haven’t had to think about investing at all because it all has been done for me automatically.

If there is anything I’ve learned through this wealth-building series it is how important it is to automate these investments in myself.

What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest

What Was the Outcome of My Ellevest Portfolio?

In October, I earned $56.89, in net returns, after opening my account with $2,000. 

In November, I deposited an additional $300, earning me $71.64 (for the month of November).

In total, I’ve earned $128.53 with Ellevest in two months.

I don’t know about you, but that’s a heck of a lot more than what I was earning with my money sitting in my bank account.

For my modest $50 splurge fund deposit, I earned $2.80 on my monthly investment.

What Did It Cost Me to Invest With Ellevest?

This tool is much cheaper than hiring a financial advisor because a more personalized services can charge you a whopping 1% annually.

With Ellevest, your annual management fee is .25%.

If you saved $5,000, for example, you would pay $12.50 for the entire year. 

For the amount that is within these accounts, my charge was $1.80.

This amount will shift as more money is invested, of course.

Ellevest Impact Portfolio Example

Did I Really Support Women By Investing With Ellevest?

Earning money is great, but did I make any impact on women in business?

Good news… I did!

How do I know this?

If you look at my Impact Portfolio (see the image above) you will see these green circles with icons that tell me why they picked these stocks and how it impacts others.

This icon tells me that I’m supporting Women in Leadership. These funds invested make an impact on women leaders and policies that advance women.

This icon tells me that I’m supporting Sustainable, Accountable Companies.

These funds invested make an impact on companies that are working to meet higher standards for sustainability and ethical practices.

 

What I Earned From One Month Investing With Ellevest from MomAdvice.com

 

As you can see, 53% of my portfolio really goes into those impact funds. Impact funds are the ones that are distributed to women in leadership, sustainable companies, and to community development.

Why am I not 100% invested in women though?

As a fiduciary, Ellevest prioritizes the appropriate mix of investments to help you reach your goals.

This means a low-cost, globally diversified portfolio invested across many asset classes.

At this time, there are not sufficient impact investments to meet their fiduciary criteria for all of their asset classes.

They do continuously monitor the marketplace for new impact investments that they believe are suitable for your Ellevest Impact Portfolio.

In a nutshell, they research each impact investment in your Ellevest Impact Portfolio to ensure it meets their fiduciary standards.

Then they make it even greater by investing to make a positive impact in the world.

Did I Really Earn Money on Referrals Through Ellevest?

Ellevest does have a referral program (open to everyone) that you make a referral credit for each person that signs up and have created an actual account. 

That means, the accounts must be fully funded for you to receive a referral credit. 

Credits are then applied to your highest-priority funded goal.

If it’s a taxable account (not an IRA), the credit is applied as a one-time deposit and you’ll see it as a pending transaction in your goal.

The major complaints about Ellevest had been about the referral program.

If people haven’t went through the process of establishing the account and making a deposit though, you don’t get credit for that.

For example, I have 13 pending accounts that just might be waiting for this results post before they go through the process of setting that up with their bank.

For now, I have earned $100 on referrals that are being added to my account.

Not only that, but once you refer two friends (that have fully vested) you are considered an Elle Raiser Ambassador.

The title “ambassador” just tells the world about the leadership role you’ve taken on in the Elle Raiser community: talking the talk, walking the walk by bringing their friends, family, colleagues — fill in the blank — into the movement of supporting women through your investments.

If you didn’t know,  MomAdvice is all about empowering women and I’m proud to be doing exactly what I set out to do over sixteen years ago.

Will I Continue Investing With Ellevest?

YES!  This has been such an easy thing to automate in my life and I’m so proud to be investing in myself.

November ended up being our most profitable month on the site and once that money deposits, I’m moving it right on over to my retirement.

I can’t imagine not investing in myself now.

If you want to start investing in yourself too, here is $20 to get your account started!! Don’t hold me to this, but I noticed they are now giving you $50 to start an account so don’t be surprised if you get a $50 deposit instead!! 

What I Have I Earned So Far With Ellevest?

I have earned $130.22 with Ellevest and an additional $100 through their referral program.

Earnings totaled: $230.32

What Have I Earned So Far With the Passive Mom Income Series (started in October 2019)?

In an effort to be completely transparent with this series, I will share with you what the outcome is each month and how much was earned from a year of dedicating my time to this project. 

Rakuten- $601.47 (read more about this passive income opportunity)

Ellevest- $230.22 (read more about this passive income opportunity)

Total Earned So Far With the Passive Income series- $831.69

See you on the blog tomorrow for our December Passive Income For Moms Challenge!!

This post contains affiliate links. 

Love this post? Here are a few others you might love!

Passive Revenue Ideas for Busy Moms from MomAdvice.com passive revenue ideas for busy moms

Earn Money With Rakuten Cash Back Offers from MomAdvice.com earn money through rakuten cash back

Real Rakuten Results Cash Back Earnings Report from MomAdvice.com do you really earn money with rakuten?

how to invest in yourself with ellevest

Don’t forget to follow along on our Passive Income Challenge series. You can head here to see all the posts in one place. Did you sign up for to invest with Ellevest? What was your experience with this passive income money maker for November?

What I Earned From One Month With Ellevest from MomAdvice.com

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Easy Peppermint Mocha: Starbucks Copycat Recipe

Monday, November 11th, 2019

Easy Peppermint Mocha: Starbucks Copycat Recipe Header

Nothing says the holidays like a Peppermint Mocha. Today I’m sharing how you can make this super easy recipe right at home. There is no need to spend a lot this holiday season, with this copycat Starbucks Peppermint Mocha recipe.

With the holidays just around the corner, the one treat I love to indulge in while doing my holiday shopping is a delicious Peppermint Mocha.

What screams holiday more than a minty cup of coffee topped with whipped cream and crushed candy canes?

I was ordering these year round until they came out with the Salted Caramel Mocha, which seemed to satisfy my out-of-season mocha cravings.

Of course, wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to make these at home and save your money for your Christmas presents this year?

I hit the kitchen to try and whip up a batch of these at home.

Once I had my basic mocha recipe down from my DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte & my DIY Salted Caramel Mocha, it was just a matter of figuring out how to create the peppermint flavor at home out of ingredients I had in my pantry.

Close-Up of a Peppermint Mocha

Easy Peppermint Mocha Tutorial

Here are a few commonly asked questions about making your Peppermint Mochas at home!

What Supplies Do I Need to Make a Peppermint Mocha at Home?

The tools I would recommend are an immersion blender (or small individual blender for drinks or a simple whisk), a saucepan, and a french press or espresso pot (depending on how strong you like to make it).

I like to use a French Press for my lattes, but I also embrace my little stovetop espresso maker when I need that extra bit of caffeine.

How Can I Make a Peppermint Mocha At Home if I Have a Keurig?

I don’t, personally, have a Keurig, but two of my amazing readers shared their tricks to get that coffee shop taste at home with your Keurig.

Lora shared this idea for K-Cups-

“Try one of the dark, strong coffee K-Cups they offer! Jet fuel is one. They do make some nice strong ones you just have to look!”

What a great idea! Take a peek at some of the k-cup options for a diy latte at home.

Another reader, Kim, shared this super smart idea to brew coffee with a completely different type of k-cup.

“If you buy the iced coffee blends for Keurig (I have Nantucket Iced Coffee) and just brew it like a normal cup (not over ice) – it is super strong and works great for these type recipes!”

Another fantastic suggestion! You can shop for iced coffee k-cup options here.

Vertical Image: Easy Peppermint Mocha: Starbucks Copycat Recipe

How Do I Make My Own Peppermint Syrup?

You don’t have to create the peppermint syrup yourself, although it is really easy to do and made from pantry ingredients. 

Simple syrups are just as simple as their name to create.

It is just a matter of dissolving sugar into water, reducing it a bit, and then adding your flavoring of choice for your favorite beverages.

To make this peppermint simple syrup you will need 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and 2 teaspoons peppermint extract.

In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved.

Stir in the peppermint extract.

Cool to room temperature and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to three months.

Once you get this technique down, you can create a variety of coffee drinks and cocktails for the holiday season. This recipe yields enough syrup for 5-7 peppermint mochas at home.

Do You Have Any Peppermint Mocha Topping Suggestions?

I don’t usually top mine, to save on calories, but I do have some ideas on how you can make this festive. A drizzle of dark chocolate, white chocolate, or a simple chocolate syrup is a great to pour over a little whipped cream.

If you are feeling extra festive, try adding some fun holiday sprinkles to really make it festive

How Can I Make This Into a Peppermint Mocha Gift for the Holidays?

How fun would it be to make Peppermint Syrup in a jar as a fun holiday gift with all the supplies?

In a basket add your syrup, a good quality coffee, cocoa powder, a festive mug, and candy canes to stir, along with this recipe.

So easy and a great way to start anyone’s day.

I Don’t Have Time to Make a Homemade Peppermint Syrup. Can I Buy Peppermint Syrup from Starbucks?

Simply call ahead to your favorite Starbucks joint and ask if they have a spare bottle of Peppermint Syrup that you can buy or if they can order it for you, if they happen to be running low.

A bottle runs less than $10 or approximately the cost of two of those coffee drinks that you would buy.

Remember, you can split a bottle with a friend if you don’t picture yourself drinking one all winter long or save it for those Peppermint Mocha Frappes, in the summer months.

If you don’t care if the syrup is from Starbucks, here are some more affordable options!

How Can I Enjoy This If I Don’t Like Coffee?

First of all, how dare you.

Secondly, I have a really simple peppermint hot cocoa recipe that would still satisfy those minty cravings you might be having!

These are every bit as good as Starbucks, but costs a lot less than your coffee shop ones. I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as you have enjoyed the other coffee creations from our kitchen!

What Our Readers Said About This Peppermint Mocha Recipe:

This is fabulous! Thank you so much for sharing. The first cup I made, I gave to my husband with the disclaimer “I’ve never made this. Don’t expect it to taste just like Starbucks.” (We are obsessed with their peppermint mocha lattes but can’t afford them). Still, his eyes lit up like I had just given him the best gift ever! It’s so delicious. 🙂- Sarah

Fabulous! I used twice as much sugar for the syrup, and twice as much peppermint extract just because i have a sweet tooth and I love a lot of mint flavor. Tried adding it to coffee without the cream, that’s just not the same, not a step i recommend skipping, but whole milk works wonders too. Thank you so much for this recipe. You saved me so much money buying my coffee out or the creamers. You definitely helped make my holiday more festive this year. So happy to read your blog. Merry Christmas!- Liz

Aren’t they the best? I hope you love this recipe as much as they did!

toppings for a peppermint mocha at home

Homemade Peppermint Mocha
Author: 
Recipe type: Drinks
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 Peppermint Mocha
 
Nothing says the holidays like a Peppermint Mocha. Today I'm sharing how you can make this super easy recipe right at home. NO need to spend a lot this holiday season, with this copycat Starbucks Peppermint Mocha recipe.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk, steamed
  • 1 cup very strong coffee (4 tablespoons coffee grounds to 1 cup of hot water, I prepared this in my French Press, but you can brew a strong drip pot if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons peppermint syrup (read the post for the directions on how to make this)
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Chocolate Syrup (optional)
  • Crushed Peppermints (optional)
Instructions
  1. Directions:
  2. Prepare your hot water in your tea kettle.
  3. Add four tablespoons of your favorite coffee grounds to your French Press.
  4. Pour 1 cup of hot water over them and allow the coffee to steep for four minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
  5. In a pot, heat up one cup of milk until it is steaming.
  6. Froth the milk with a wire whisk or an immersion blender until it is nice and foamy.
  7. In your coffee cup, mix together the prepared coffee, cocoa powder, sugar, and peppermint coffee syrup until the sugar and cocoa powder are dissolved and there are no lumps.
  8. Pour the milk foam over the top of the coffee/mocha mixture and stir to incorporate.
  9. Top with whipped cream, a generous drizzle of chocolate syrup, and crushed peppermints.

 

Love this recipe? Here are a few others you might like!

Salted Caramel Mocha Latte Recipe from MomAdvice.com salted caramel mocha latte recipe

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Looking for more great drink recipes? Here are a few others we think you will love this fall!

How to Make a Pumpkin Spice Latte from MomAdvice.com homemade pumpkin spice latte

DIY Your Own Chai Tea Mix from MomAdvice.com homemade vanilla chai mix recipe (an easy diy for the pantry!)

How to Make a Gingerbread Latte from MomAdvice.com how to make a gingerbread latte

How to Cold Brew Coffee from MomAdvice.com how to cold brew coffee at home

Amy's Famous Cocoa Mix Amy’s Famous Hot Cocoa Mix

Peppermint Cocoa Recipe from MomAdvice.com peppermint cocoa recipe

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows from MomAdvice.com homemade peppermint marshmallows

Chocolate Coffee Spoons from MomAdvice.com chocolate coffee spoons (perfect for upping that mocha taste with a chocolate sauce!!)

Do you have any suggestions to improve on this DIY Peppermint Mocha?

Be sure to leave them in the comments below!

Easy Peppermint Mocha: Starbucks Copycat Recipe

 

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Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha Latte

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

Salted Caramel Mocha Latte Recipe from MomAdvice.com

I love to create a coffee shop experience at home. That’s why I created this EASY Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha Recipe so you can brew your copycat Starbucks coffee recipe at home. This is one of our most popular recipes on the site and, once you try it, I know you will see why!

My favorite drink at Starbucks is their Salted Caramel Mocha Latte.

One sip of this delicious goodness had me daydreaming about how I could replicate this delicious salty caramel goodness at home.

Coffee drinking is, after all, one of my favorite hobbies, but a girl has to do it on a budget. 

A DIY version of this Salted Caramel Mocha Latte was definitely in order.

Salted Caramel Mocha Latte Recipe from MomAdvice.com

I am no stranger to the sweet and salty combination.

My Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies may have made me a celebrity in very tiny circles of friends.

I am also no stranger to replicating Starbucks treats. My homemade pumpkin spice latte has been shared (and enjoyed) thousands of times, by our readers.

These two things, that I am most proud of,  had to come together for this fun treat.

Salted Caramel Mocha Latte Recipe from MomAdvice.com

Lattes are an easy creation to make at home. Each fall and winter, I put my French Press to work by creating the strong brewed coffee needed for a delicious latte at home.

In the summer, my cold brewed coffees are made with this little gadget and over the years it has paid for itself over and over again.

One rainy day, I decided to replicate my new favorite Starbucks treat.

I sipped lattes, tested combinations, whipped, brewed, drizzled, sipped, whipped, brewed, drizzled, and sipped.

As I tried to hold my camera steady to take pictures of my coffee glory, I realized I had a horrible case of the shakes.

I also realized I may have overdone it with the sipping part of things.

When I came to get my children at their bus stop still wearing my pajamas (complete with rubber boots), bearing crazy caffeinated eyes, and shaky hands… I had to wonder what the bus driver thought of this crazy woman who hadn’t even brushed her hair that day.

Hey, it is better than the times I come with crazy eyes and spray paint all over me- hahaha!

In the end, I think it was all worth it though.

I hope you will think so too.

Save your $5 and make this little treat at home whenever you want.

Just take my advice and try to do it in moderation.

Trying to save calories?

Skip the toppings and just enjoy a skinny salted caramel latte at home.

How to Make a Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha Latte at Home

What Supplies Do I Need to Make a Salted Caramel Mocha Latte at Home?

The tools I would recommend are an immersion blender (or small individual blender for drinks or a simple whisk), a saucepan, and a french press or espresso pot (depending on how strong you like to make it).

How Can I Make a Salted Caramel Mocha Latte At Home if I Have a Keurig?

I don’t, personally, have a Keurig, but two of my amazing readers shared their tricks to get that coffee shop taste at home with your Keurig.

Lora said, “Try one of the dark, strong coffee K-Cups they offer! Jet fuel is one. They do make some nice strong ones you just have to look!”

What a great idea! Take a peek at some of the k-cup options for a diy latte at home.

Another reader, Kim, shared this super smart idea to brew coffee with a completely different type of k-cup.

Kim said, “If you buy the iced coffee blends for Keurig (I have Nantucket Iced Coffee) and just brew it like a normal cup (not over ice) – it is super strong and works great for these type recipes!”

Another fantastic suggestion! You can shop for iced coffee k-cup options here.

What Ingredient Could I Purchase if I Wanted to Drink an Exact Copycat Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha Latte At Home?

My readers are always so generous with their commentary and we had a couple of replies, from Starbucks employees to set the recipe straight. In the Starbucks version, the Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha Latte doesn’t actually have…well, caramel.

They actually use a toffee nut syrup instead.

That is what gives it that rich buttery flavor that makes it such a fun treat.

Does Starbucks Sell the Toffee Nut Syrup?

Did you know that you can purchase coffee syrups directly from your local Starbucks.

With seasonal drinks in high demand, if you are thinking about buying a syrup, contact a manager to see if they can order you a bottle. When they place their order, they can tack on an extra bottle just for you.

Just replace the two tablespoons of caramel syrup with two tablespoons of the toffee nut syrup (or less- experiment with this one!!).

What Type of Salt Does Starbucks Use in Their Salted Caramel Mocha Lattes?

Starbucks uses a blend of turbinado sugar and smoked sea salt. I visited a lot of boards to see if I could figure out the exact combo.  Just mix together 2/3 turbinado cane sugar and 1/3 smoked sea salt.

Mix them together in a shaker for your future lattes!

Why Does This Recipe Have Kosher Salt and Caramel Sauce Instead?

Here’s the honest truth…because that is what was accessible to me.

I always have kosher salt in my house and caramel sauce is an easy addition from the supermarket.

MomAdvice is all about good living for less so I try to keep this in mind with our readers.

If you prefer a fancier experience, you now know how to level up!!

If you want to keep it accessible, cheap, or live in an area where fancy salts and coffee additions aren’t accessible…then this recipe is for you!

Salted Caramel Mocha Latte Recipe from MomAdvice.com

Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha Latte
Author: 
Recipe type: Drink
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
An easy DIY Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha Latte you can enjoy and create at home.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk, steamed
  • 1 cup very strong coffee (4 tablespoons coffee grounds to 1 cup of hot water, prepared in a French Press)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons caramel coffee syrup (I bought mine at our local superstore in the coffee aisle or you can pick them up at your wholesale club for cheap. I accidentally bought sugar-free and it worked like a charm. Feel free to use either variety and adjust to your taste)
  • Whipped cream
  • Caramel Sauce
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Prepare your hot water in a kettle. Add four tablespoons of your favorite coffee grounds to your French Press. Pour 1 cup of hot water over them and allow the coffee to steep for four minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. In a pot, heat up one cup of milk until it is steaming. Froth the milk with a wire whisk or an immersion blender until it is nice and foamy.
  3. In your coffee cup, mix together the prepared coffee, cocoa powder, sugar, and caramel coffee syrup until the sugar and cocoa powder are dissolved and there are no lumps. Pour the milk foam over the top of the coffee/mocha mixture and stir to incorporate. Top with whipped cream, a generous drizzle of caramel sauce, and your pinch of salt.

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Looking for more great drink recipes? Here are a few others we think you will love this fall!

How to Make a Pumpkin Spice Latte from MomAdvice.com homemade pumpkin spice latte

How to Make a Peppermint Mocha from MomAdvice.com how to make a peppermint mocha

DIY Your Own Chai Tea Mix from MomAdvice.com homemade vanilla chai mix recipe (an easy diy for the pantry!)

How to Make a Gingerbread Latte from MomAdvice.com how to make a gingerbread latte

How to Cold Brew Coffee from MomAdvice.com how to cold brew coffee at home

Amy's Famous Cocoa Mix Amy’s Famous Hot Cocoa Mix

Peppermint Cocoa Recipe from MomAdvice.com peppermint cocoa recipe

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows from MomAdvice.com homemade peppermint marshmallows

Chocolate Coffee Spoons from MomAdvice.com chocolate coffee spoons (perfect for upping that mocha taste with a chocolate sauce!!)

Do you have any suggestions to improve on this DIY Salted Caramel Mocha Latte?

Be sure to leave them in the comments below!

Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha Latte Recipe from MomAdvice.com

 

 

 

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