Thursday, August 28, 2014

Color Coded Moving Boxes

 I wouldn't say that I'm a packing PRO 
but
I have made several major moves in the last few years.

Moving is expensive, a lot of work, stressful and there's no way we could have moved without the help of our family and friends.  It takes a whole team of people to pull off a move even when you are really organized.  We've hired movers, recruited family and asked friends to help.  It's always more work than you anticipate and plan twice as long as you think to get things done.  I decided to try something new for this move and I'm happy to report that it worked!!

I color coded boxes by room.

*Each room got a specific tape color - duct tape worked well because we could just tear off pieces as needed.

*I made a chart for reference since we had several people packing.

*I made sure that the boxes in each room had the correct tape and a specific label on the box.  I learned from our last move that boxes titled DECORATIONS were not helpful when we were going to unpack.  We put things like "small picture frames" instead of "decorations".  Much better plan!

*I'd also recommend letting your packing team know about your color coding so that they can help you continue your system.  Be sure to stick to your guns and keep labeling boxes with tape because things will get chaotic and it's easy to give up in the midst of things.

*It was most helpful for us to pack and seal several boxes and then add the tape for the appropriate room for multiple boxes at a time.

*I even ended up tagging furniture and larger unboxed items with the tape so that they would end up in the right room.

*It was great when we were unpacking because everyone knew where to take things without my help.  I was often busy taking care of Olive so it was invaluable to have my organizational system in place.  It was almost like I was in two places at once!!


I felt like the unloading of the truck went better because of the tape.  People knew where to go with things and everything went smoothly.  I knew it would be very difficult to unpack if things were just dumped downstairs and we were left to move boxes to the right room.  Insisting your movers put boxes in the room that they will eventually be in will be so helpful to you in the end.  Even if you do sound like a crazy woman during the move :)  It'll be worth it!!

Thrifty Thursday Debut

I've decided to start a new series on Thurdays called:

My husband and I are working hard to stick to a budget this year and save money where we can.  We are trying to save money at the grocery store, with household purchases, on-line purchases and eating out.  I'm excited to share tips with you about how you can save money, too.

You will NOT find any crazy extreme couponing tips here, any wacky meal planning for pennies per person or any tips for building stockpiles of sale items in your home.  I don't have time for those extremes so I have no expertise in any of those areas.  My goal is to share practical ways for you to save money with minimal effort on your part.  You'll get tips for stretching your dollars to allow you to get the most for your money.



Today's tip:
Download FREE apps to your phone to save money

I have the following apps in a folder called SHOPPING on my phone.  It's easy to find all of my money saving apps when I'm shopping since they are all stored in this folder.

Cartwheel
Target's discount app
You easily select the coupons/discounts you'd like to use, the app generates a bar code for you and then you have the cashier scan it at the end of the checkout process.  It also has a feature where you can scan items you are planning to buy in the store to see if there are any additional discounts you can apply.  Very user friendly and easy to use.
I've saved $24.29 by using this app.

Checkout51
an app for you to use on your weekly grocery list.  You select deals you'd like to use, purchase the items and then scan your products/receipts.  They get submitted, reviewed and credits are sent to your account.  You can cash out once you hit $20 for certain gift cards listed.
I've saved $8 using this app so far.

Hobby Lobby
40% off coupon access each week
Ibotta
another app for you to use on your weekly grocery list.  You select deals you'd like to use, purchase the items and then scan your products/receipts.  They get submitted, reviewed and credits are sent to your account.  You can cash out once you hit $10 for certain gift cards or your paypal account.
I've saved $24.50 with this app so far.
Jo-Ann's
often has several coupons to use and sometimes coupons for your whole purchase

Kroger
You can load coupons to your Kroger card, make grocery lists and it has a barcode for the cashier to scan to get your extra deals if you forget your Kroger card.  Tons of coupons each week!!

Michael's
often has several coupons to use and better discounts than just 40% off one item

QBOT
an app that lists local offers for discounts on tons of things - oil changes, food, event tickets, activities and more!  I've used it for $20 off an oil change and it has many similar features of groupon.  Check your area to see if QBOT might be something that you could use.  We used it in Arkansas but it doesn't have anything to offer us in Mississippi.  Odd...

Walgreens
clip coupons to add to your Reward's card to use in the store


Did I miss any great money saving apps??
Please share your favorites in the comments below.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cousins on Vacation

Olive is the baby cousin on Kevin's side of the family and she loves it.  She had lots of fun watching her older cousins at the beach.  She thought they were quite entertaining.  They all live in Indiana so it was fun for Olive to spend several days with them.

They watched cartoons together, shared toys, learned about trains, made silly faces and Olive was just curious about everything they did.  They wanted to hold her, help feed her, share with her and were sad that Olive couldn't go home with them.









It's good to be the baby :)

Colonnades Condos

Colonnades
We stayed at the Colonnades this year and really enjoyed the place.
We stayed on the 4th floor and it was lovely.

PROS:
Close to restaurants and the main strip
beautiful ocean views
quiet place
nice units
not overly crowded
had plenty of room to ourselves on the beach
amazing beach access
umbrella/chair rental service
people are very friendly
20 minutes from the outlet malls
10 minutes from grocery stores

CONS:
small parking lot
pool was hard to access so we never went
not tons of amenities for kids

We decided we would go here again in the future, but we might like to look for a place that had better pool access and splash pads for the little kids next time.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Favorite Eats in Gulf Shores

 Our usual eating routine on vacation is to get groceries so that we can have breakfast and lunch at the condo and then go out for dinner.  We made breakfast for everyone to share and everyone kind of did their own thing for lunches.  We decided it would be a good idea to get take out a few nights so that we didn't have to drag all the little ones out to eat.  We had a group of 6 adults and 4 kids.

I thought I'd share our favorite restaurants with you in case you are ever in Gulf Shores.

Doc's Seafood Shack & Oyster Bar
great crab cakes and seafood
Very family friendly

Cactus Cantina
 Our 2nd year coming to this restaurant.
Indoor and patio seating.
Delicious mexican, great chicken & queso and very generous with chips

Bahama Bob's Beach Side Cafe
great seafood and ah-mazing Bahama Bob Burger
 menu

 Nolan's Restaurant and Lounge
We loved this one so much last year that we came back!
Delicious bread, steaks, seafood & key lime pie -
I love their chicken parmesan!!

Sea & Suds
good lunch spot on the beach w/ a salad bar
 menu

Take out:
Papa's Pizza
(not to be confused with Papa Johns Pizza)

China Dragon
very generous portions and everything we ordered was tasty

Gulf Shores, Alabama 2014

It's our yearly tradition to head to the beach with my husband's family and we always look forward to it.  We rotate between South Carolina, Florida and Alabama.  We've always managed to luck out on the weather, have great times at the beach and sneak in a little shopping.  This year was no different.
I was a little nervous bringing a 14 month old to the beach.  She was about six weeks old for our trip last year and she basically slept through the whole vacation.  This year she's walking, putting everything in her mouth and has an opinion to share.

After about 5 minutes of being on the beach, I realize that we did not have a single thing to worry about.  Olive was a full blown BEACH BABY!!  She loved the sand, loved climbing on the chairs, playing with her sand toys and could have spent all of her days there.  She really didn't try to eat many shells or put much sand in her mouth.  She was leery of the water, but to be fair, it was a little chilly the first day or so.  We played in the water some and her dad was eager to take her out farther than I liked into the ocean.  She loved it and once again dad wins the title for being the fun one.

I wanted to share our favorite memories from being at the beach with Olive this year (otherwise known a beach picture overload :)  I opted not to bring my DSLR to the beach because I doubted my abilities to take care of my camera and my baby while we were having fun.  All pictures were taken with my iphone.
Olive was fond of our cabana boy Evan - she wanted to talk to him and tried to follow him around - haha!




















 We had a wonderful week if you couldn't tell :)