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Monday, June 29, 2015

Buy This Not That- Dollar Tree

Jules here-

With all the parties, crafting, and pinteresting I do on a limited budget- I am a frequent visitor of the Dollar Tree.  From stocking stuffers to toiletries, I rely on only spending a few dollars on trinkets and necessities. Some things are a FANTASTIC bargain at the dollar store, and others- not really worth it at all...

Rather than worry about keeping a toothbrush for 60+ days or that accidental dreaded toilet dunk, I also have a few "Three-packs" of kids toothbrushes around. I love how they come in different colors, and how I have three children; kind of perfect, really. Poor Ems has to buy several of these...

I also like to frequently rotate my "poofs" so they don't get mildew on them.  Wal-Mart has similar pricing of poofs.  Now I have bought the three packs for the kids- they do NOT last as long as the big poofs do. They often unravel with minimal use, so I usually don't buy them.
Big poofs: good deal
Small poofs- buy for company for 1-2x use

Honestly, I laughed when I found this at my mom's house- Ems had left it there, but I tried it anyway for after my shower- and now I am ADDICTED to it... Having your hair up in a hair wrap rather than a towel is so much nicer!!  Wet hair doesn't drip on your neck in the winter and it keeps you cooler in the summer.... LOVE it...

Hair Supplies
When I moved, I think I found three thousand hair bands strewn throughout the house. Under tables, in couch cushions, and even in the kitchen supplies... of course, I can never find them when I need them.  I buy hair bands, barrettes, and even de-tangling spray at the Dollar Tree.
Worst barrettes ever

Works fantastically

These work great too.

 Craft Supplies
With Grace, we go through an amazing amount of Popsicle sticks, glitter glue, pom-poms and stickers-- the Dollar Store has the best prices for all of those items!
Pipe cleaners, paint brushes, glitter glue, popscicle sticks- all awesome!
I do NOT however recommend buying pens, crayons, or paint.... I rely on the back to school Crayola sales for that. Crayons are cheaper and better quality come late July/August! STOCK UP SOON!!
Not worth it crayons.

Fun for Kids
Of course I rely on the Dollar Store for fun toys, games, and activities for the children!  Compared to Wal-Mart the glow sticks are worth the drive! I even found a TWENTY pack of bracelets- multi-color for ONE dollar yesterday. I had to search through the racks- you can get anything from one magic glow wand for a dollar to 7 bracelets typically.

The mother load. You cannot get more for $1

I really like the mini-tea set for the kids (plastic, use with water) along with the fairy wings. They do eventually tear, but they last long enough for fun.
Worth it for a few weeks of fun! Tea set is great in the bath too!

Some of the plastic toys are NOT worth it- they are breakable and the parts are so small they are instantly lost.  This mermaid lasted a week in the bath before her tail was unfixable...
Paddle ball does not last connected long, and then paddle becomes weapon for young boys....

Party Supplies
Have you been to a iParty? Each set of plates starts at $3.99 for 10 plates?!?! Who could afford that?  I might not be able to find a character or theme that I am looking for- but plain colors can add a lot to a special event. Plus, Grace sometimes adds stickers to the plates to add to the festiveness.  I buy table cloths, foam plates for a big crowd, balloons, and streamers here.

What I don't buy for a party? The party favors.  They are CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP! Most of the favors are "pretend"-- whistles don't whistle, kazoos don't kazoo, etc..... Not worth your money.  Look more in the toy section of the Dollar Store or the Target dollar bins for better value.
Many of these favors are "pretend" toys. No kid will "pretend" to like them.

Household Needs
I mistakenly bought toilet paper once-- the quality was "eh" and the rolls ran out quickly- I stick to name brands and "double rolls" from now on.

I do buy my freezer bags, sandwich baggies, and foil containers for meal-sharing.  They are much more affordable than the grocery store, and the quality is the same. 
Random Favorites
Finally, here is the round up of favorite miscellaneous items.  I love the random storage  bins, trash cans, containers, etc. Some of the imitation tupperware doesn't seal right- but for closet storage- this stuff rocks!
 Some of my followers may not know that I have never outgrown my love of candy. Currently in my car I have Sweettarts, Sprees, Jujubes, and Gobstoppers. Yes, all currently in my car right now. I drive for work, I need some sugar....   But if you are going to the movies you could pay $4-5 per BOX where here you could get a whole car full of candy :)
Mmmm... off to get candy fix now...
 I buy many a spice here at the dollar store- I cannot stomach the $5-8 a jar of spice at the grocery store.  Some spices may not be as potent- but heck, use more, it's cheap enough!
I especially buy cinnamon here so I can make the applesauce cinnamon ornaments at Christmas without spending a fortune.
 Ice cream truck go buy your house? Everything STARTS at $2-3 a pop-- either go to the grocery store to buy a box of treats- or spend a couple of dollars buying the kids a treat here and there!
 Don't forget the tool section I mentioned in my previous post-- I LOVE the wrenches, screw drivers, level, measuring tapes... etc.... all still work!!
 And two things NOT to buy. The paint brushes lose bristles quickly and did not paint evenly. 
 These storage bags LOOK like the ones you get at Bed, Bath & Beyond- but they rip easily and can't hold much... Avoid buying.

El Cheapo
Have any Dollar Store finds that you would love to share? Comment and let me know- I pretty much go there every week!

Easy Rule #347234- Don't let pride keep you from trying a discount store- there can be great deals!

Easy Rule #42342- Sometimes even spending a dollar isn't worth it- Make sure you know what's worth your money!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

TV Dinner

Ems here--

Let's not dwell on how infrequently I post.

Moving on, hubs and the big boys traveled out of town for a weekend soccer tournament, leaving me home with the 5 little ones. Because the big guys get to have fun in a hotel with a pool and their friends and Dadddy, I try to plan a few special things for we happy few on the Homefront.

This time around we planned a play date with friends. We made pudding pops. We  went to the dollar store. We ate Wendy's and actually got the kids' meals and the junky plastic toys. Yay.

But probably our most fun activity was our TV dinner. We are typically a "sit at the table" family, pretty much 7 days a week. Having a meal in the living room with the tv on was a radical idea! I chose the show (Pioneer Woman--I'm not sitting through another Sofia the First episode) and the meal and the kids were thrilled!

Quite brilliantly (patting myself on the back) I designed a one bowl meal to keep cleanup simple.

Tortellini and Veggies 

3 packs of tortellini (mushroom and cheese)

While the tortellini cooked, I sautéed sliced mushrooms, chopped onion and garlic, and frozen peas in a pan with butter and olive oil. I tossed in the drained and cooked tortellini, sprinkled with salt, and Voila! A one dish meal that everyone enjoyed.

Here a few random pics since I've been AWOL:

We have a trampoline! Kids are in heaven. It does have a net, never fear! We just hadn't installed it yet in this picture.

Josephine made her First Holy Communion! She was (and is) so beautifully excited.

Gemma is a sweetheart! We shall keep her.

Rule #32848: A change in routine is a special treat sometimes! Just like this random post from me, am I right?;)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Top Ten Lessons this week

Jules here-

I would like to pass on some moments of wisdom I have gleaned this week in my Top Ten lessons I have learned this week:

10- Don't empty the lint trap with damp hands.  When you are quickly cycling the laundry and your rinse of your hand under the water, don't then touch the lint-- it immediately becomes a fuzzy disaster.  Trust me. 

9- When a three year old tells you he already went to the bathroom, don't trust him.  Even if he insists that he doesn't have to go, or that he already went before the long car ride. Physically place him on the potty and wait...
Potty time.

8- When a three year old says he's got to go "potty really really badly" trust him.  Conversely, if you are driving along and your three year old starts wailing about how he needs to go "really badly".... stop the car. Make him tinkle on the side of the road, or you will have to clean the car seat...
No bathrooms in traffic....

7- Having three kids really does slow you down. Literally.  The Nike App is great! Especially if you want to see how slow you are now.  I was a runner in high school and beyond, and I completed distant events. Occasionally I have run at a conversational pace with my ex-neighbor still awesome friend, Lisa, however, we never timed ourselves. I recently downloaded the free app and went for a run-- I am literally 100% slower than high school for the mile time. 
My favorite "running" buddy... I use the term "running" loosely... We are much better friends than runners...
6- Moms might get scurvy.  I love when my kids eat fresh fruits and vegetables- and honestly my kids love most of them!  With the expense of fresh produce, I usually only buy the on sale items.  I always dream of winning the lottery and having fresh raspberries and blueberries every morning. Until then, I often go without.  I allow the kids to devour the vitamin rich food- and I barely get a serving a week. I indulged in strawberries and cheerios tonight-- I forgot how delicious that combination is!! 

5- Kids need very little for fun.  Since the move, we have not had a "break". We've painted, repaired, unpacked and hosted a housewarming--- so the last Monday I threw a "silly day" just to relax with the kids and NOT do housework.  Just a little face-paint and some blueberry pancakes on a rainy day.  They were thrilled :)

4- Trust other parents. On a whim, we decided to hike the local mountain- Mt. Major.  A family was about to start a hike at the same time, and they recommended the yellow trail as the easiest.  We followed the more gradual route up to the top without incident.  At the top, some NON-parents recommended the orange trail on the way down as it was technically shorter...  About a 1/4 of the way down, I encountered a veritable cliff... I had to lower James down each giant boulder and block the super steep drop-offs from the girls... it took quite a bit of time... Next time, I'll listen to the parents.

You cannot believe how steep that is from this angle. But that is the trail.
Beautiful views- worth the hike!
 3- Kids art can be real art.  I have a lot of wall space without much art- so I decided to use a Pinterest idea and create an art wall for kids.  The kids feel like real artists and beam with pride as their pictures are chosen each week.  And you can rotate/recycle easier!

2- A night out doesn't have to break the bank.  We walked to our local restaurant for an appetizer on its new deck! We enjoyed sunshine, conversation, views, and only spent $14 including tip :) 

1-  "With children, the days are long, but the years are short" a patient once quoted me-- how true!! Some days I am counting the minutes until bed time, but then I look at James- THREE YEARS OLD already!  I had my first child SEVEN years ago-- time has flown!  I've already lived in my new house for three months, and yet it seems even longer...  I'm trying to take the time to appreciate the moments every day instead of wishing the time to move faster. 

Visiting Cousin Charlie!

Easy Rule #254354- Take a moment to see how much you learned- just this week!