Archive for the ‘Minimize’ Category

March: No Spend Challenge Results (Week 2)

Friday, March 16th, 2018

march no spend challenge

I can’t believe I have already breezed through the second week of this No-Spend Challenge and things have been going so well.  I am really recognizing my spending impulses and a lot of it seems to have to do with the power of suggestion (helloooo, Instagram)  and when I have pockets of free time that have me heading over to my computer to do a little online shopping.

no-spend challenge

no-spend challenge (the birthday boy’s favorite cake- snickerdoodle cake!)

It was my husband’s birthday week and I had disclosed at the beginning of the challenge that I wouldn’t be skipping his celebration dinner just because I wanted to save a little money. We went to his favorite fancy spot and had a wonderful meal that we savored together. I never take for granted what a good life it is when you get to spend your life with your best friend.

When I began really getting the hang of cooking, we have found that we really don’t enjoy dining out anymore, unless it is somewhere really spectacular. I wouldn’t say our dining out budget has been cut down necessarily, but that we now would rather pay for one really incredible meal rather than four disappointing inexpensive meals.

It was a fabulous night and there was no need to buy anything special to wear thanks to that well-equipped capsule wardrobe.

red sparrow

I have a MoviePass, but I always am trying to coordinate with other people to go and see a movie. I have never gone to the movies by myself, but I was dying to see Red Sparrow (my husband was not) so I decided to have an impromptu movie date by myself.

You know what? It was awesome!

My INFJ heart was very happy AND I absolutely loved the film.

I packed a snack in my car to enjoy on the way home and avoided the concessions stand to hold to my challenge.

Boy, that popcorn smell almost had me caving!

no-spend challenge

Dining at home is never a biggie, but I have gotten in a bad habit of just buying groceries impulsively and not really looking in our pantry and freezer. These chicken breasts became this delicious dish and a forgotten bag of potatoes made the perfect side dish.

We enjoyed this with some belly-laughs over this new Netflix series. It made me thankful to see other people #nailingit like me when it comes to baking.

no-spend-challenge-3

Do you follow bloggers because you love seeing all the new things they have gotten? I know that there are certain accounts that I follow because it seems like they always have the latest thing.

I realized this week that creatively, it is MUCH more challenging to inspire people WITHOUT buying things.

I have to think a little harder about what I have been putting out in the world and how to inspire people without spending money. I have always been committed to good living on a small budget, but am I always sharing in these ways?

I needed a little Spring for our mantle, for example, and shopped the house to create a cute little rainbow of books for the mantle.

My hubby declared this the MOST Pinterest-y thing I have ever done and I am not ashamed.

We have so much here- why do I feel I need to buy things to inspire other people?

no-spend challenge

This week I have been more busy than usual and haven’t been sitting at my computer and instead found myself with three wonderful dates (at my house- #nospendchallenge, you know!) with three amazing women that inspire me so much.

I love entertaining, but sometimes it feels more convenient to just go out rather than clean up our messes (or, heck, let people witness our messes) and open our home up…warts and all. We remodeled our home with the intention of sharing our home with others and we should be doing just that.

What a blessing to have the space to do it in and to share it with others.

One friend brought me this book (I can’t wait to dig in), another brought me this beautiful plant, and another brought all the appetizers and wine for a fun night in my little shed. Hostess gifts were savored so much more this month!

California Typewriter

We ended the week with a pajama-date today and watched this phenomenal documentary on typewriters (available on Hulu).

If you have a free afternoon this weekend, it is such a good one. I will admit, it had me feeling a little melancholy about my love/hate relationship with technology. I love sharing here, but I struggle with too much technology in my life.

I am sure I will have lots to learn when I detach from social media a bit next month!

Next week I am traveling for business so I will have some expenditures with business travel, but I’m hoping to continue the mindful approach to spending, just as I have been doing these past two weeks.

Follow My No-Spend Journey

No-Spend Month Intention
Week 1

Money Spent- $299 (groceries) $140 (birthday dinner for my hubby- an approved expenditure)

Memberships Used During Week 1-

Scribd- 0

Gym- 2 classes

CycleCast- 1 session

MoviePass- 1 movie

March: No Spend Challenge Results (Week 1)

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

march no spend challenge

Haven’t you always wanted to read someone’s diary?

Oh, wait…is that just me? In all seriousness, I’d love to share with you my weekly reflections from my month of intentions.

Since March was designated as my no-spend challenge month, I thought it would be a great one to share with you as I embrace this month of getting my spending habits back on track. Truth be told, the savings will be used for our Spring Break trip and I’m hoping that we won’t feel the pinch at all from taking a vacation.

The first week is no big deal because, honestly, how hard is it to do for one week?

Here is what I learned from week 1:

No-Spend Challenge Results

Week 1 of the No-Spend Challenge

Day 1- I’m going to be honest and tell you that I had expected the launch of this challenge to start with an expense. I had planned to take my neighbor out for her birthday dinner (after she had taken me for a fantastic birthday meal where I claimed I had coupons, but actually did not) and I was going to add this feast to my monthly expenses since it had been planned.

I received a text though that said she would prefer just meeting for a glass of wine and had been eating out a lot lately.

She suggested that it might be better to just hang out in my She Shed.

I offered to make her a birthday dinner though and discovered three sweet potatoes, a bag of Brussels Sprouts, a bag of spinach, and just enough arborio rice to make a risotto dish. Balsamic roasted veggies, risotto cooked in white wine and vegetable broth, and a cranberry & almond salad were all birthed from the pantry that had nothing.

It was delicious and, upon a generous amount of wine, she did confess that she saw I had planned this challenge and refused to sabotage my first day out of the gate.

What a great friend, right?

Surprise, surprise, I made it through day 1 without an expense after all.

Day 2- I am at the gym and get a peek at my girlfriend’s amazing boots she is wearing.

“Where did you get those?”

“TJ Maxx! Can you believe they are water resistant and everything?”

“Oh, I need those.”

I begin to contemplate how I can swing by TJ Maxx on the way home from the gym and then remember my no-spend commitment.

I arrive home and glance at the dusty basket filled with oodles of boots…

Three pairs, just for me, that are water resistant.

No Spend Challenge

Day 4- I know a lot of people get buried in weekend spending, but my homebody nature really pulls through on the weekend.  I have been discovering I had quite the stockpile in our freezer so a night of mussels was on our agenda for our usual pizza night.

It’s been ages since I made spaghetti sauce, relying upon the jar for convenience, and I was reminded the beauty in a homemade sauce for a spaghetti side.

It really is the little things.

A couple of months ago, I had splurged on this expandable coffee table and it is now our favorite weekend spot to have dinner and watch a show together.

 

When We First Met

Date nights were spent catching up on Netflix- yes, we are that fun!

The original programming from Netflix has really been delivering so it was easy to do a movie night at home together and this one was adorable. Many times I find myself running over to Redbox or the library for movies when we have PLENTY to watch already at home.

Seriously, you should see how long my list is.

No Spend Challenge

Day 5- Since we were eating our way through our pantry, I thought I’d give gluten-free pizza dough a try to see if I can’t replace that take-out pizza moving forward. I wasn’t willing to chance it on two pizzas because gluten-free flour is expensive.

Surprise, surprise, I NAILED IT! I was so proud of myself that I made several more, just to make sure I could share a really good recipe with you.

It must be elastic pants weekend.

Day 6-7- It was really fortunate timing that I figured out a supplement that could help with my pain management just as this challenge was beginning. (P.S.- I promise to share more tomorrow!) so I was able to keep to a consistent gym routine which gave me the opportunity to socialize and to get in some good endorphins.

I dusted off my stationary bike and got back to using my CycleCast app so even in moments I was working out a lot, I still felt like I was a part of something.

Overall, week one was AWESOME and I can’t wait to what else I learn in the next three weeks!

Money Spent- $0

Memberships Used During Week 1-

Scribd- 1 audiobook

Gym- 3 classes

CycleCast- 1 session

MoviePass- 0 movies

March Intention: No-Spend Challenge

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

march no spend challenge

I feel like it is January 1st instead of March 1st with all this excitement about setting monthly intentions. For March, I have challenged myself to a no-spend challenge. I had shared about no-spend challenges in my book and in an article on our site,  but was inspired again when I read (again) this transformation article from my dear friend, Shanna. I happened to be on Facebook when she shared that she was planning to tackle another challenge recently and I love hearing that this had become a part of her yearly routines.

You know how your spending habits increase as your salary increases? Our expenses have definitely expanded, since we worry less about money, and I know that we could be saving so much more.

As soon as I shared my no-spend challenge with my family, the first thing my daughter said was, “Does that mean you won’t buy us any groceries?”

Yeah, I should probably review what a “no-spend” month looks like.

no spend challenge

What Spending is Allowed?

Gas

Groceries (I am also going to be looking with a critical eye at how much we have been spending in this category because I, honestly, haven’t been very good about paying attention)

Normal Bills & Memberships (including normal business expenses)

My hubby’s birthday meal (I am not going to be a Scrooge if he wants to go out)

What Do I Plan to Do Differently This Month?

No dining out (OUCH- that should save A LOT)

Use up what is in our freezer and pantry- we have a lot of ingredients that I haven’t been putting to work

Be MORE thoughtful about my grocery purchases and get back to ALDI

Go over our current spending and see where we can cut corners

Get back to using Mint to track what’s happening in our accounts

Use the memberships I have (gym, Netflix, Hulu, CycleCast, Spotify, Scribd, & MoviePass) and REALLY analyze if these are being used enough to justify the monthly expenses

Work on my taxes- we can’t leave for Spring Break until this is in order

NOT make frivolous purchases for Spring Break & Easter

NO Kindle deal buying- I do love a cheap book purchase

I am really looking forward to sharing my results from this financial fast and and I’m excited to see how much we can save this month. It will be a great way to reset this year for our family. If you want to follow our adventures, you can catch me on Instagram documenting through their Instagram Story feature and a little on my feed too.

I am also journaling my experience to share with you at the end of the month. Stay tuned for my reflections on this one.

Would you like to join me this month? Leave a comment below (because I can’t pay for a link list subscription- hahaha!)

This post contains affiliate links that help our site! Thank you for supporting me! xoxo

 

 

How to Cable: Knitted Ear Warmers For Those In Need

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from MomAdvice.com

As a knitter, I am often intimidated by things that look too complex. I find myself gravitating towards things that I think will be easier and not even considering things that I think will take me out of my knitting comfort zone. Cabling was one of those things for many years. It looked far too complex and I can barely handle the basics of knitting. Here’s the thing. It is truly one of the easiest things you can do in knitting especially when you know a few of my favorite tricks for cabling quickly. Today I want to show you how to cable and how this project can benefit someone in need.

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from MomAdvice.com

This is the time of the year where the homeless and those in need really need us. When the temperatures drop and you are in that cold-in-your-bones zone, you are welcomed by the warmth of your home, maybe a fire, and a hot drink to settle in with when you arrive home. What if you had nowhere to escape?  Worse yet, imagine you were out in the cold without the warmth of a hat, gloves, or a scarf.  Let’s think also of the children whose family can’t afford these simple luxuries of warmth.

You can’t knit a hat? I get it! Those double-pointed needles are a pain in the rear, aren’t they? That is why I thought a simple knitted headband would be a great option for gift-giving and for a quick gift to share with those in need. In fact, I highly recommend knitting a few of these for your homeless care packages to keep in your car.

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

Any Bulky Yarn (My top preferences for this project are the Lion Brand Hometown USA & Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick)

US 11 Bamboo Needles

US 10 Double-Pointed Needles (you just need one!)

Optional: Stitch Counter (to help you stay on pattern)

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from MomAdvice.com

(video below)

Trying to show you how to cable in a picture tutorial was a little impossible so today so I thought I would do a video. I am so terrible at videos so please forgive me. I’m off to a conference this week where I am hoping to learn more about doing these better for you all- it’s one of those work challenges I need to learn to tackle. I know how helpful it can be to show these techniques in a video.  Scroll to the end of this post to watch!

This cable is called a Shadow cable. In this pattern, we will be bringing three stitches in front with our double-pointed needle and three stitches cabled later behind our work. This cabling adds a double layer of warmth in this pattern and  I’d love for you to scroll down to the bottom so that you can see how I do this.

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from MomAdvice.com

Cable needles look like this and I have a ton of them. I hate them. I usually lose my stitches and I find it difficult to transfer stitches especially when it comes to bulky yarn. You can certainly buy them (this is my favorite type), but I recommend just doing a double-pointed needle one size down from the work to grab your stitches. I am a big fan of bamboo because they grip the yarn so well especially when moving stitches around. It’s the only type of needles I knit with!

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from MomAdvice.com

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from MomAdvice.com

Not only are these quick to knit (they shouldn’t take you more than two hours!), but I think they look pretty fashionable too. For gals with long hair, ear warmers are a dream for keeping your locks in place. For ponytail days,  you can just pull your hair through and still have warm ears.

I gave them a test run on the most miserable weather day which is ALWAYS, ALWAYS Halloween. My husband was freezing, but I was delightfully warm thanks to these cozy ear warmers. The cabling really adds a double warmth to them. For particularly rotten Indiana days (I know they are coming), you can layer this under your hat for extra ear protection.

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from MomAdvice.com

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from MomAdvice.com

How to Cable: Free Knitted Ear Warmers Pattern from MomAdvice.com

Can you just imagine the warmth you can give this season to someone in need? This little project is fast to memorize and easy to execute with a good audiobook (can I recommend our books section to you?) or with a great big Netflix binge (I’m sure you can find loads of recommendations on my 3 Little Things list).

Thank you to Nancy Ricci for sharing her beautiful Vanessa Headband Pattern for free with the Ravelry community- I am so honored to share her pattern with you today!

Free Pattern Download HERE: Vanessa Headband Pattern by Nancy Ricci

Check out my video below to see just how easy it is to cable with your double-pointed needle! Visit our Knitting section for more great ideas and be sure to friend me on Ravelry! You can also pick up my beautiful knitted boot cuff kit in stores RIGHT NOW!  Happy knitting!

*This post contains affiliate links! I only recommend what I truly love though! xo
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Minimize Morning Stress With an Organized Command Center

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

Minimize morning stress with an organized command center

When we created our small space entry DIY command center, my goals at the time were simple: create a space for the kids backpacks and keep their school paperwork off our counters, as well as have a place for basic entry items (space for keys, glasses, etc.). It ended up working great for the space as well as our family AND gave an added bonus:

It has minimized our whole family’s weekday morning stress levels and has helped our morning routines run a lot more smoothly!

Use any space to organize for better mornings!

As I shared, we started with a simple corner in our living room right around the corner from our front door that was a place we naturally dropped our things anyway – that’s the best place to start, right? Figure out what’s already working and then make it work better. And prettier, of course.

Mirrored coat rack

We added a functional and decorative mirrored coat rack, perfect for tying on a scarf before heading out the door as well as holding coats and small purses. We also moved a seldom used storage ottoman here to hold the backpack and briefcase clutter and finished off the mirror area with a large basket  for storing our magazines and umbrellas.

DIY_Command_Center_7

To catch the school paper clutter that always seems to be on the brink of becoming out of control, we use an upright file folder organizer and colorful file folders for organizing the whole family. It has become one of the best things to keep the morning stress level down!

Set Up a File System to Minimize Morning Stress:

1. The kids each now have an IN and OUT folder. If they need something signed, they put it in the IN folder for me for signatures and I give it back to them by putting those items in the OUT folder, that they can check before they leave for school.

2. Special memorabilia that is worth saving still resides in their decorative boxes in their rooms.

3. Mom and dad each have their own files for paperwork that needs to be dealt with before filing or recycling.

4. Taxes has a file for receipts and other items that tend to pile up waiting to be filed.

5. There’s a general “kids” file for any items that we need to take care of (things we want to file, or waiting for a meeting, etc.)

DIY_Command_Center_8

The other thing we added that has helped with our morning routines, almost eliminating the last-minute-trying-to-get-out-the-door search for ________ (fill in the blank: keys, watch, glasses, etc.), is a long, narrow compartment organizer for keys, sunglasses, and other things rests on this half moon table for easy finding and grabbing in the morning. Best. Thing. Ever.

Another crucial element to our daily routine is found above the table: our family calendar. We can keep track of important events at school, doctor’s appointments, business travel, and more – the calendar is usually filled to the brim!

Free-Family-Management-Binder-Printables-Header-2

I also love using our family management binder in this command center, especially to check out the menu before we head out the door to know if there is something I need to pick up at the store. (Oh, and we’ve recently revised the cover so that it now comes undated so that it can be customized by you – I love this binder and hope you do, too!)

If you don’t have your own family binder copy yet, grab one by using the handy form in our sidebar to sign up for our weekly newsletter – a recap of all the happenings for the week and will make sure you never miss a post. Then you’ll be eligible for this and other free printables we offer ONLY to our VIP subscribers.

I had hoped our small family command center would help our mornings run smoother, of course, but it wasn’t one of our main goals, just a happy bonus, and has continued to renew our commitment to living small. Even if you have a small home, you can make any space a functional space for your family!

How do you minimize morning stress?

Summer 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Summer 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from MomAdvice.com

Is it okay to admit that I fell off the fashion capsule wagon for a bit? After our trip to Italy this summer, I lacked the motivation and time to get my wardrobe planning back on track. I can honestly say that I have felt a little out of sorts without the structure. If I thought that this was just a silly routine to get myself to stop shopping, it was evident after an explosion from my closet every morning and the urge to spend again (when I had plenty) that helped me realize how much I benefit from it. Today I am revealing my summer fashion capsule and putting myself back on the wagon.

Since this month is all about beauty in our m challenge, I thought this was the perfect time to reveal my summer wardrobe.  I really do consider my capsule wardrobe a big part of my beauty routine. I have found that simplifying my wardrobe helps me feel beautiful and put together for my week. I can’t recommend this enough and in just a couple of short months, I will have implemented this in my life for an entire year! Who would have thunk it?

Let’s dig into this month’s capsule!

Summer 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from MomAdvice.com

This project was inspired by Project 333 & the Unfancy fashion capsule challenge, but I am making a few of my own rules for my own personal challenge.

33 Piece Wardrobe- The wardrobe can have 33 pieces  in it. This wardrobe does not include pajamas, workout gear, undergarments, or camisoles (something that is a necessity for me).  The capsule is made from items I already own, some purchased to be workhorses in my wardrobe (since I fail in this department greatly), and purchased second hand at thredUP or Twice. All of the items I am not wearing and still love are being tucked in storage for the next fashion capsule.  I have created a Fashion Capsule Pinterest Board to help inspire me with the pieces I am using.

Choose 3 More for Rotating- You may choose three additional items and put them aside in your closet. You may rotate these items in during the next three months, but three other items have to be rotated out. Consider donating those items.

No Shoe Shopping- I am not including my shoes for this challenge, but I am challenging myself to not buy any more shoes and use what I already have.

One Steal Per Month- Things and events come up and I am allowing myself one steal per month from items that I already own. I may find I don’t need this, but I think it might help with the shopping bug.

No Shopping For Clothing- I will wear the clothes I have selected and not shop for three months and only shop two weeks prior to the next capsule for items for the next season if needed. This is going to require a lot of discipline for me and I am planning to unsubscribe to shopping newsletters and avoid the shops as much as possible.

Below is my wardrobe for the month. I am at 32 pieces this month! Since the weather has been wonky in Indiana, I will save one piece for  another jacket (what the hay, Indiana?!). The items with an asterisk are new to this capsule (purchased for our Italy trip!)

Summer 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from MomAdvice.com

 

Row 1:

* White Anthro Summer Dress (gently used, purchased from thredUP)

* Matilada Jane Out & About Romper (purchase from Amanda Petit, Matilda Jane Independent Trunk Keeper)

Old Navy Vintage V-Neck T-Shirt in Dark Gray- (Old Navy)

Ann Taylor Loft Pink Print Bow Collared Shirt (gently used, purchased on Twice)

Floral & Lace Top (Golden Tote)

Row 2:

* J. Crew Denim Dress (gently used, purchased from thredUP)

Anthropologie Scarlet Swing Skirt

Neverending Romance Top (Flourish Boutique)

* J. Crew Gray Knit Sleeveless Top (gently used, purchased from thredUP)

J. Crew Polka-Dotted Silk Sleeveless Top (gently used, purchased from thredUP)

Row 3:

Kelly Green & Royal Blue Sleeveless Dress (Flourish Boutique)

Palm Tree Skirt (Anthropologie)-  (gently used, purchased from Twice)

White Eyelet Lace Top (Mossimo)- Target

* Free People Peasant Top (gently used, purchased from thredUP)

* Black & White Striped Short Sleeve Shirt (The Limited)

Black & White Long Sleeve Top (gently used, purchased from thredUP)

Denim Shirt (GAP)

Black Crocheted Cardigan (Flourish Boutique)

* Black & White Maxi Dress (Ann Taylor Loft)

*Black Swing Skirt (Ann Taylor Loft)

White Linen Blazer, Nordstrom (gently used, purchased from thredUP)

J. Crew Navy & White Striped Blazer-  (gently used, purchased from Twice)

Not Afraid of the Dark Denim Jacket (Flourish Boutique)

Summer 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from MomAdvice.com

Row 1:

Peach Shorts (TJ Maxx)

Floral Shorts (TJ Maxx)

* Yellow Shorts (The Limited)

Row 2:

* Green Bow Skirt (Ann Taylor Loft)

Black Lace Tuxedo Shorts (The Limited)

Denim Shorts (TJ Maxx)

Row 3:

Seven Skinny Jeans (Flourish Boutique)

Black Pants (Ann Taylor Loft)

Old Navy Vintage Gray T-Shirt (Old Navy)

Summer 2015 Fashion Capsule Wardrobe Project from MomAdvice.com

Banana Republic Red Halter A-Line Dress – (gently used, purchased from Twice)

Coupons That Might Help If You Are Making a Capsule Too

Current Coupons for Old Navy (I am a big fan of their jeans and basic t-shirts)

Current Coupons for Target (their wardrobe is on the smart minimalist side this season- yay!)

Current Coupons for Gap (blazers, chambray shirts, collared shirts, jeans- oh my!)

Get $10 for your first Twice purchase (this is one of my favorite online consignment resource)

Get $10 from thredUP (a new obsession for me AND my kids)

Golden Tote– a fun resource for budget-friendly shopping for your capsule

Use web code WEB25 for 25% off your purchase at Flourish Boutique (this is our site sponsor and where I get the majority of my clothing). You can also catch a sale daily on the Flourish Boutique Facebook Page)

Stitch Fix can be a fun resource for shopping for smart basic wardrobe pieces if a stylist might benefit you!

Don’t forget to clean out your closet! Here is a list of resources to help you make money while organizing this corner! Here are some tips for creating the perfect capsule wardrobe and feel free to browse my fallwinter , and spring capsule selections while you are gathering ideas for your own capsule! Follow me on IG for fresh outfit ideas each week! xo

*this post contains affiliate links! 

Summer Beauty Tips with Hollywood Housewife

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Summer Beauty Tips from Hollywood Housewife

I would like to extend a warm welcome to one of my dear blogging friends, Laura from Hollywood Housewife.  If you are looking for great advice for books and beauty, she is my go-to girl! Today Laura is sharing a few of her favorite summer beauty tips for our m challenge and I’m so incredibly honored to share her tips with you today! xo

I am so honored to be posting at Mom Advice today! I’ve long been a fan of what Amy makes of this space, it’s such a good combination of practical and interesting.

Today I want to share with you a little bit about summer beauty routines. On my blog Hollywood Housewife, we talk a lot about lazy beauty. I confess to a certain amount of vanity – I care about the way I look, who doesn’t? – but I don’t want to invest too much time or energy into it. So I focus on finding products that give you a lot of bang for your buck, or are multi-use. The goal is to look (and feel) your best, with the minimum amount of steps required.

In the summer especially, “lazy beauty” is paramount. I don’t want to spend one extra minute in front of a mirror, but it’s also the most social time of the year.

Here are my favorite beauty tips and products for easily looking your best during the warmer months:

Sunscreen & Moisturizer

We should all be wearing sunscreen year ‘round, but of course this is the time of year when your risk of sun damage increases exponentially. I look for SPF in my face products, but beware not to get it too close to your eyes. For daily, no-makeup days, I use Aveeno Positively Radiant daily moisturizer. It evens out my skin tone more than pricier versions, and it really protects your skin. The Positively Radiant moisturizer is available in both SPF 15 and SPF 30. I trekked through Sri Lanka and Haiti wearing only this lotion and was shocked at how well it held up through the hot days.

Summer beauty tips sunscreen moisturizer

For the face

If I’m going to wear a little makeup, I prefer tinted moisturizer in the summer instead of traditional foundation. It doesn’t do the heavy lifting that either a true moisturizer or foundation does, but it’s a great compromise between being bare-faced and being made up. It will give you a subtle glow, and hides imperfections. If I was going to splurge on one single product for my summer routine, it would be a good tinted moisturizer.

Summer beauty tips tinted moisturizers

My favorites are Laura Mercier oil-free tinted moisturizer with SPF 20 and NARS Pure Radiant tinted moisturizer with SPF 30. The Laura Mercier has a bit of a sheen to it, while the NARS finishes on the matte side. The key is not to apply too much. You should use a much lighter hand than you would with regular moisturizer or foundation. I dot just a bit on both cheeks and the forehead, then use a brush to even it out. It’s fine to use your fingers if you’re on the go, or if you want just a little more coverage.

Eyes, Cheeks, & Lips

I don’t have the patience for an involved eye shadow routine in any season, but especially not in the summer. For the most natural look, I don’t use shadow at all, but just swipe a bit of concealer on the eyelids, because mine look slightly blue without it. If I want just a shimmer of something, I use my finger to apply a transparent shadow like Cover Girl Eye Enhancer in champagne or a cream like MAC’s longwear paint pot in chilled ice.

Summer beauty tips eye makeup

Typically when it’s hot, I forego blush altogether. It tends to melt in an unflattering way, and most of us have a pretty natural flush in the summer anyway. If you want to look more sun-kissed, apply a bronzer underneath the cheekbones, and just a touch down the middle of the face, lightly grazing the forehead, nose, and chin. Never apply bronzer all over like you would with regular face powder. Look for the places the sun naturally hits your face, and dust those areas.

Summer beauty tips lip gloss

I’m a big fan of lipstick (and contend that ANYONE can wear red lipstick, no matter their coloring or their personality), but it mostly bleeds when it’s too hot outside. Shiny lip gloss is more forgiving than colors with a lot of pigment, and can look surprisingly festive. For the added benefit of a protecting balm, I like the feel and gloss of Kiehl’s #1, and for a pop of color I like the Lancome Juicy Tubes.

Summer beauty tips mascara

Even if I apply nothing else, I never skip mascara. I look disturbingly like I’m about to fall asleep if I don’t highlight my lashes. I’ve experimented with expensive mascaras and drugstore brands, and I just keep coming back to L’Oreal Voluminous Original mascara. The waterproof version is too bulletproof for me (it’s really hard to get off!), but if that’s what you need near the water, then it does the job. Otherwise, mascara is the best and cheapest way to look instantly awake and polished.

Hair

Chasing my kids around the pool, the last thing I want to worry about is my hair. (Sensing a theme here?) I recently grew my bangs out (again), so I see a lot of messy ponytails in my future this summer. To keep from being really boring with your hair, try an embellished headband (like this one) or a colorful scarf (like this gauzy one). You can also add a sweet detail like a small braid near your hairline.

Summer beauty tips hair accessories

Or just embrace the beachy, messy look! My hair is fine and stringy, so when I’m not in the mood to fuss with a straightening iron, I spritz Bumble & Bumble Surf spray all over, and give my hair a little shake. Voila! Low maintenance is always the best policy.

I hope these few ideas help you find a no-fuss summer beauty routine. You can find all of my lazy beauty posts here. I’m always tweaking the products I use, so if you have any of your own suggestions about looking your best, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Thanks for letting me share here today!

 This post contains affiliate links! We only share what we love and for things we think you will love too! 

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Strategies for Packing Lighter

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Strategies for Packing Lighter

Packing lighter not only will help you save you time at the airport, but it can significantly reduce the amount of money you spend on your next trip. Unfortunately, most airlines now charge for you to check in your luggage, but it is important to be aware that the largest allowed size for carry-on bags is 22×14×19 inches. With careful planning and strategic packing though you can maximize your suitcase and shave approximately $50 off on your next round trip flight with a few smart packing strategies.

Here are a few quick tips for lightening your load on your next flight:

1. Call Your Destination First

Wherever you are headed, whether it is for business travel or leisure, call first and see what is already included in your hotel room. Some items like bathrobes, hair dryers, and toiletries are common items that are often included within your stay, but you may discover that your hotel can offer some unexpected offerings that will free up a great deal of precious space in your carry-on bag. For example, items like beach towels, toys or movies for children, and portable cribs are items that could be offered complimentary with your room. I have found that it just never hurts to call ahead and ask and you might be surprised to discover just how little you really need to bring!

2. Divide Your Luggage 

If you are traveling as a family, divide the luggage up between each family member and consider investing in one small roller bag for each child that they will be able to maneuver themselves. Child size luggage can be found at discount stores like Target, Walmart, TJ Maxx, and Marshall’s. Even with this investment, you can still easily save $25 on the way back because you won’t need to check a bag. The bonus is that they can use that bag for years to come, making it easy to recoup your travel investment.

3. Pack Smart

It seems that it is always the people that do not take the time to pack wisely that become the most flustered or are asked to step aside by security. The most important thing to note is that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules require that passengers only carry liquids in three ounce containers in no more than one, clear, quart-sized bag.

I love to visit freebie sites like Freebies4Mom.com, DealSeekingMom.com, or The Savings Lifestyle and stockpile sample size toiletries and detergent for your trips that will comply with these federal guidelines. If you travel frequently, reusable travel containers can also be a fantastic investment that can be refilled with the items you already have from home. Make sure to store this bag right on top for easy access, as it will need to be removed from your bags when going through airport security.

4. Establish Order In Your Carry-On 

Underneath your bag of toiletries, tightly roll your clothing to prevent wrinkling and to maximize the space within your carry-on luggage. Choose clothing that can easily be mixed and matched and make sure to prepare for what weather conditions may be awaiting you. There is nothing worse than being at an amusement park with your family during a torrential downpour and paying $15 for an umbrella or heading to a state with warmer weather and paying $35 for a junky tourist sweatshirt because you are freezing.

Last, make sure that any electronics that will need to be inspected rest on top next to your toiletries until you get through security. The ones that will not need to be run through separately will be easier to scan if they are right on top and those that require a separate scanning will be easy to access for this procedure. Remember that everything can be rearranged in the bag, once you get through security, to protect your electronics from harm during travel.

5. Save Even More Money

The best part about keeping your bags light though is that you can use this as an excuse to not buy so many travel souvenirs on your trip. Consider that light bag as not only a savings for not checking in, but the ultimate excuse to not indulge in those pricey gift shops. I have been known to use this excuse a time or two when coming home empty-handed after a business trip!

The important thing to remember is if, in the end, you are unable to reduce your luggage to be carry-on compliant, try paying for your baggage online first. Just by paying for your checked bags online you can sometimes save you a few dollars each way.

How to Pack Lighter for Travel

In the end, the lighter the load, the lighter the expense and the easier your life will be when getting through those security checks!

What are some of your tips for packing smarter and lighter when traveling?

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Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

As my kids get older, we have found that they need and want less and less.  We have also found that we desire less clutter and more moments with our kids so my husband and I hatched up a Choose Your Own Adventure gift for the holidays this year that we gave them in lieu of gifts.

Do you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? They were my favorite when I was a kid because each time you read a book, you could make a choice that would take you down a different path. I think I reread this one a million times, returning the well-worn pages back to the library, only to to check it out again.

That idea of choosing your own adventures still lives on and I decided that this year, our family would make travel a top priority. I want my children to have big adventures and see the world so at Christmas, we gave them the unique opportunity to, truly, choose their own summer adventure with us as a family.

I tell you this now instead of in the winter because this one requires a chat with your kids about gift expectations and it also requires saving money for your adventure. 

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

We asked our kids if they would like to do a vacation instead of gifts this past Christmas and they were so excited to do this which thrilled us to no end.

Since my husband is a web designer, he came up with the genius idea to create a retro travel brochure (complete with a typewriter smear) that would make it look like this package was designed just for them that they could open on Christmas morning. Since there would be no gifts under the tree, we really wanted to give them something to enjoy on Christmas morning and to create a new tradition of gift-giving in our family!

The Mom & Dad Travel Agency (making dreams come true since a few minutes ago- ha!) cover sheet was designed with their names on it and placed on top of the gift.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

The first package they opened outlined the rules of the adventure.  If you decide to do something similar, you can create your own rules, but these were the rules we set up to make sure that things went smoothly. 

Found below are the rules we gave our kids! 

Rules for Our Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Package

ONE- You must agree TOGETHER on the trip. We know that this will be tough, but it is also a great opportunity to work on your teamwork skills. Take your time coming to your decision and read through each of the files carefully. In it, we have outlined how you will get to your destination, where and who you might visit, as well as the exclusive adventure you will get to take.

TWO- Although we will do our best to book the places we have outlined for you, these will also be subject to availability. Do you know what that means? It just means, it depends on if the places or owners have space for us. For example, if the place we show you ends up not being available when we are able to go, we promise to find something as close as possible to what we have shared with you. That is the MOM & DAD TRAVEL AGENCY guarantee.

THREE- We will book the destination of your choosing as soon as possible, but the trip will be taken in the SPRING (sometime between the months of MARCH-MAY). Again, all of this will hinge on the availability and the ideal weather for wherever you select.

FOUR- HAVE FUN! Again, the MOM & DAD TRAVEL AGENCY is so pleased that you want to do something with… well…, your MOM & DAD as a gift. How many parents get to say that? We are so proud to take this trip with you and look forward to serving all of your travel needs.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

I designated one file folder for each package idea and my husband created retro cover sheets for each package. For our family, the three destinations were to Florida (Universal and our Mimi), Boston (renting a houseboat and seeing where my son was born), and California (to see the Redwood Forest). Each package was wrapped individually so they had three files to open in the morning.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

I then typed up travel itineraries that we hoped the kids would love reading together in the morning. We really wanted to make each of these special and a true gift in the morning.

Upon opening all three, they had a little conference session on their own to decide the trip that they wanted to do.  As outlined in the rules above, they had to decide together.  We knew this might be tough, but there was also the option of one picking one year and the other picking the next year.  

In fact, we are planning to recycle one that wasn’t chosen (that seemed to get a lot of buzz) and add a couple of new options.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

Over our annual Christmas Tree Cinnamon Rolls, they shared that Universal was the chosen holiday for the year. I am proud to say it wasn’t really about seeing the Harry Potter world at all… it was, in fact, getting to see their amazing Mimi that really sold our Mom & Dad Agency package.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

I hope this idea is inspiring to your family! We are so excited to take adventures with our kids this year and in the years to come and are so happy they enjoyed this gift as much as we enjoyed creating it for them!

*This post contains affiliate links!
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Free Printable Chore & Tech Time Tickets

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Tech-Chore Tickets Free Printable Note: Originally published in 2012, these tickets have continued to be a wonderful way to monitor both screen time and chores with our kids in a sort of “hands-off” way (meaning, it’s not up to me to keep reminding!). With our focus on technology m challenge, it seemed perfect to share again for those of you who are looking for a better way to manage screen time and make sure chores actually get done.

My husband created this great printable for summertime chores and monitoring computer time with the kids that I’m excited to share with you- free printable chore and tech time tickets. The tech hours punch-tickets in particular have helped both us and the kids know how much time they’re spending on technology. They can be printed and used with a simple hole punch to signify if the child has used their tech time or has completed their chores.

I really wanted to spend quality time with my kids this summer and I find that screen-time really distracts them from our time together. These tech tickets have made us all more aware of how much screen time we are using and have been a great way for us to monitor the amount they are getting. And they work hand-in-hand since the tech time can’t be redeemed until the chores are completed, so it’s a win-win.

How We Use The Tickets

– Each child gets one chore ticket and two tech tickets for the week in our house.

– The chore ticket must be punched before they can start with their first hour of screen time.

– Punch the ticket itself at the end of the day, BUT morning chores have to be completed to redeem the first hour of time, then evening chores are completed and the second hour can be used.

As an example, this is what our list of chore activities to be completed looked like when my children were 10 and 6(alter as needed for your kids and needs):

6 Year Old Chore List– Get dressed, tidy room, make bed, sweep (with a quick vac) under the table after each meal, meal helper every other night, (help prepare and set the table for dinner), 15 minute tidy at the end of the day, and assist mom with laundry sorting.

10 Year Old Chore List– Get dressed, tidy room, make bed, wipe down both bathrooms, meal helper every other night (help prepare and set the table for dinner), 15 minute tidy at the end of the day, and assist mom with loading and unloading of laundry.

Reward- $5 weekly

Tech tickets grant the child one hour of computer or video game time. We do not count television time as tech time in our house. Kids can watch 2 shows daily on Netflix. We no longer have cable television so that has really helped us do a better job of not zoning out on the television.

A timer is set and once it dings, the card is punched for that hour.  It is as simple as that!

We made an agreement that if the child wants to save computer/video game time that they can save and transfer the hours to another day. They can not, however, cash in on an advance on their ticket.

I will not lie, the first day was ROUGH. Two hours does go by quickly for everyone. That said, after the initial two days, we have really been enjoying our time together. We keep busy with fun outings and tackling our summer bucket list together. I find that breaking the day up with an outing seems to make the day go by faster and takes the focus off of the lack of screen time.

Today my son said, “Wow, that hour was really long!”  It was funny how he was whining about the hour being too short the first day. I think we were all losing track of how much time we were spending on our respective screens.

Everyone parents differently. This parenting strategy works for us and I hope it will help someone else out there too!

I didn’t want to waste anytime getting these printables out to you though because they are quickly becoming a valuable part of our summer time together and I think they could be valuable to you too!

Grab your Printable Chore Tickets.

Grab your Printable Tech Tickets.

 

Notes on the printable– There are three tickets per sheet. These are color tickets, but you can switch your printer settings to black-and-white or draft mode to save on ink.

 

How do you monitor screen time in your house? What does a typical chore list look like for you? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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