Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Our Favorite Amazon Gifts for Toddlers to Tweens

It's Christmas Prime Purchases day today!  I'm going to share some things that my toddlers to tweens either LOVE or things they are getting for Christmas this year.  I hope you find some good ideas for your favorite kids!

1. Glow City Glow in the Dark Basketball


 We love to go on walks and play in the driveway in the evenings so I think my kids are going to love getting these Glow in the Dark basketballs.  I got one for each of my kids.  They have great reviews and are on an extra deal right now.

2. Stanley Cup with Fold Down Straw

My kids love to drink out of a Stanleys and this is the preferred style for school with a straw that closes shut.  Each color is a different price and there are tons of colors and patterns to pick from.  My 7 and 10 year old are each getting one for Christmas.


  3. WAINIS 24 Pairs Cute Earrings

My 10 year old loves a quirky statement earring.  She got a similar set for her birthday in the Spring and I think she's going to LOVE these.  They are super affordable and individually packaged in case you wanted to break up the set to give as several gifts.


4. Hot Wheels Monster Truck Car Mover

Leo's best buddy got this for his 3rd birthday and Leo loved it!  I'm surprising him with one for Christmas.  He already has a collection of small monster truck hand me downs from Fletcher so this will be the perfect way to move them around the house.


 5. BRIGHTWORLD Moon Lamp Galaxy Lamp

Fletcher got this for his birthday and it's been such a fun night light.  It comes with a remote and has 16 different color options.  He loved selecting the color for his night light at bedtime.  We have also gifted this to other boys.


 6. Elite Sports Ring Toss Game

My 7 year old son is getting this for Christmas.  He's going to love it and we bought it for one of his buddies for a birthday gift.  It has awesome reviews and the quality looks great.

7. KIDAMI Die Cast Metal Toy Cars

Leo got these for a gift recently and loves them!  He's three and was obsessed with the fact that all the doors open and close.  He loved the cars so much that we bought them for one of his 4 year old buddies for Christmas.


 8. Refasy Electrionic Piggy Banks

My 7 year old is getting this for Christmas.  I know he's going to love keeping close track of his money and the fact that it'll be locked up safely so his siblings can't touch his money.  It has great reviews and comes in several different colors.


 9. Zhiwhuzhu Magnet Alphabet Car Letter Puzzle

My 3 year old is getting this puzzle for Christmas.  He's going to love driving the magnetic letter cars into their parking spots! 


10. Little Experimenter Talking Globe

My 7 year old put this on his Christmas wish list and has been talking about it nonstop!  He wants it so badly.  It looks like a really cool learning toy with great reviews.


11. Kendra Scott Necklace

My 10 year old has this necklace in light pink on her Christmas wish list.  They come in tons of colors.  It would be fun to have one in your birthstone or a necklace with your school colors.


12. Mini Lightning McQueen Cars

These have been a HUGE hit with my boys.  Fletcher loved them when he was a toddler and they are still going strong for round 2 with another toddler boy.  Any toy that lasts for 2 boys gets bonus points in my book.  They are the cutest, tiny cars with great details of all the Cars characters.  We have collected them for years and highly recommend them.  We also have both of these mini car transporters and both boys loved them!  They love loading up the mini cars and taking them for a ride.


I hope you found some fun gift ideas for kids you love!  Let me know if you have any questions!

Linking up Tanya for Prime Purchases

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

DIY Citrus Christmas Garland

I have been wanting to do this citrus DIY project for years and finally made it happen this year.  I love lemons, the smell of lemons and the color so I couldn't wait to try this project.  I read several tutorials and then made a plan that worked for me.  I learned some tips along the way and things that I'll do differently for next year.  That's right.  I loved this project so much that I'll do it again!

My tips and changes for next year are at the bottom of the post.

Grab a big bag of lemons from Sams.  They're around $5 and your favorite twine.  I sliced about 10 lemons for this project with a sharp knife and put them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  I left the seeds in and liked the look of that.  Your kitchen will smell great.

Bake at 200 for 2 hours at a time.  Flip.  The tutorials I read online said to bake lemons for 2-3 hours, but mine took probably 6 hours.  I'll make a few changes in the future to cut down that baking time.

Let them cool and air dry for a day.  They turned out to be the prettiest amber color.

I used a tooth pick to poke a small hole in the top of the lemon slices and then strung my red and white twine through.  I just tied a simple knot for each lemon.

I did one long strand for my mantle. It was the perfect finishing touch.  I have 3 garlands, ornaments, garland and stockings below.

I loved the red and white twine.  I'm super traditional and want all the red and green Christmas decor this time of year.

The ornaments are just as pretty as the garland!  I added about 15 lemon slice ornaments to our real tree.

A few things that I'll do differently next year:

1. Slice lemons thinly and then toss the thicker end pieces.  They curled up funny when baked and I ended up throwing most of them away.

2. Dry lemon slices with a towel after placing them on parchment paper.

3. Let them air dry overnight allowing them to dry out on their own some and bake for less time the following day.  I've heard that the keep their color better if they bake for shorter amounts.

4. Add in some oranges with my lemons!

Have you ever done any dried citrus projects at Christmas time?

This is a great one to start with!  I'm so pleased with the finished product!

Monday, December 4, 2023

10 Tips for a Low Stress Christmas Season

Are you feeling stressed about all of your holiday to dos?  

Or have you planned ahead and feel ready for all the Christmas fun?  

Or both?  

I'm both.  I've planned ahead, shopped ahead, made lots of lists and have a good game plan for December.  I'm excited to share some great tips with you to ease your holiday stress.

1. Hot Glue Your Gingerbread Houses!!

I have heard this hack for a few years and I had to give it a try this year.  It was so easy and worked so well.  It 100% lived up to the hype and you must try it.  We do gingerbread houses every year and this is the only way we will assemble them from now on.  I did the gluing and Kevin did the building.  We were both so pleased with this new discovery.

2. Stock Up on Canned Cinnamon Rolls that Unroll
My kids love these more than homemade cinnamon rolls.  Aldi has delicious cinnamon rolls and my kids really enjoyed these giant Cinnabon cinnamon rolls.  There are 5 in a can and we unrolled them to make Christmas trees.  Added a few sprinkles once they were iced and my crew loved them.  It's a super affordable, easy holiday breakfast.  We eat these for breakfast on the weekends or add them to the menu for breakfast for dinner.

3. Grocery Pick Up Often
Do your shopping from the comfort of your computer or phone and pick it up.  It'll save you so much stress avoiding those lines and navigating stores full of people.  Toss in some holiday food items to your order to make fun treats for your family and save yourself the stress of dealing with crowds.  I added holiday cereal, gingerbread houses, candy for St Nick's Day and candy canes to my Walmart Pick Up orders.  I also try to do my pick ups and errands during the week if I can this time of year.

These were just under $10 each and great quality at Walmart.

4. Eat the Rainbow
Your whole family will feel better and stay healthier if you are eating healthy meals at a very sweet time of year.  My kids get colorful lunches, snacks and dinners.  And we are having big side salads packed with veggies for dinner this week.

5. Buy Your Party Supplies Early
If you get invited to an ornament exchange or a favorite things party, don't want until the last minute to buy your items.  You'll save money and be less stressed if you gather your party supplies early.  I'm going to a Christmas brunch and an ornament exchange this week.  I grabbed this darling ornament for my gift at Walmart weeks ago.  Would you believe it was just $1.98!?  I'm going to swap out the silver string for some Christmas ribbon and call it done.  Now I can enjoy my week a little more knowing I won't have to rush around to find the perfect ornament this week.

6. HomeGoods / TJMaxx / Marshalls
Shop any of these stores for the cutest, affordable holiday goodies.  They are way more expensive online than you'll find them in stores here.  I grabbed these sweet mini cookie cutters for $4.99.  They are Meri Meri brand which always has the cutest things.  I think they'll be an elf gift and maybe I'll use them for snack boards or lunches or cookies.  I've gotten towels, pillows, napkins, note pads, fuzzy socks and more for teacher gifts here this season.

7. Free or Hand Me Downs
If your family or friends are purging things this season, say YES if it's something you want or need!  My mom and sister have both been decluttering and I found things that would be perfect for my house.  My sister had these cute little wreaths.  3 of them which were perfect for my 3 exterior lights.  I added ribbon and was so excited for my free find.  Thanks, Sis!
Tip: Pass on your holiday clothes, pjs or toys to friends with kids younger than yours!  I'm dropping off Christmas pjs that Leo outgrew to a friend this week.

8. Glance at Your Inbox Coupons
I know that your inboxes have been flooded with sales and coupons since probably October, but there are some good deals to be had if you need to be shopping.  For example, Nothing Bundt Cakes send me a birthday coupon for a free bundtlet.  When I picked it up I got a receipt for a survey for a free BOGO bundlet.  I cashed that in and got another survey/BOGO bundtlet coupon.  They are the perfect treat to share with a friend or add a bow and give it as a Christmas gift.  They're $5.50 and when they're BOGO, it's a really great deal for an amazing treat.

9. Keep returns in your car
I keep returns in my passenger seat so that I can take care of them ASAP when I'm out and about.  I unexpectedly ended up at Meijer yesterday and remembered that I had a $15 return to do.  I ran my errand and took care of my return all because it was already in my van waiting for me.

10. Make lists
Write out everyone you need to buy a gift for and then write in the gift info as you shop.
Make menus.
Keep notes on your phone.
Make Amazon wish lists for yourself or have your kids make them.
Text or email gift ideas when someone requests them.
Then update your calendar all month long so you won't forget the special school days, events and important Christmas celebrations for your family.

What tips are saving your sanity this Christmas season?

Friday, December 1, 2023

Friday Favorites

Happy December, Friends!  The holiday season is flying and the days are busy here.  I hope your week was a good one.  I've got lots of fun things to tell you about today.

Did you catch my blog posts this week?

Thanksgiving Highlights

Winter School Lunch Ideas

Grocery Pick Up Gone Wrong

Favorite moments of the week:

1. Field Trip Chaperone

I won the 2nd grade field trip chaperone lottery and got to go with Fletcher's Class to the Evansville Museum of Art and History.  Fletcher really wanted me to come so that was fun!  We had the best time together learning about fossils (his favorite!), watching a 3D movies about dinosaurs and touring the museum with his class.  He insisted on wearing his fossil shirt and holding my hand in the museum.  He was eager to ask all the questions and participate so much.  It was fun to see second grader Fletcher especially since I used to teach 2nd grade.  2nd graders are the sweetest!  I'm thankful Kevin could rearrange his morning to hang with Leo so I could go.

2. Elf on the Shelf
Our elves make their debut today!!  I can't wait to share more elf details, but here are a few favorites today.  I'm so excited for these tiny rubber ducks.  They are hard plastic and our elves are going to hide all 100 of them throughout the house.  My big kids are going to love them!  I also grabbed some festive Stanley straw toppers and these Christmas capsules.  I'll link anything I can for my elf plans for you!

3. 10 years ago...
My Facebook memories from 10 years ago are tugging at my heart strings this week!  Look at tiny baby Olive celebrating her first Thanksgiving.  And cheering for Notre Dame in her shamrocks.  We lived in Arkansas and I was so excited to celebrate all those first holidays with her.  She's 10 now.  Time flies!

4. Little Joys
Leo's favorite thing is getting to control his own window and feel the wind on his hands.  I love seeing his tiny hand in my mirror.

5. Live TV
Kevin got a really cool work opportunity this week to do a live interview to showcase his new PsyD program and mental health and wellness clinic at UE.  He did an outstanding job promoting all the great things his university is doing for mental health care and got invited to come back.  The kids loved watching him on TV!  He was a natural and looked so handsome.  I love putting together outfits with him!  He'd want you to know that he picked out the jacket and I helped make sure everything else matched.

We popped by his office to give him some words of encouragement during the day.  Leo keeps cars in his office and all the kids fight over his window seats.

6. Olive turned 10 1/2!
I always do something simple and sweet for the kids on their half birthdays.  I make or buy their favorite treat, add a candle and we sing to them.  It's an easy way to make the kids feel special.  I got Donut Bank donuts and she was thrilled.

7. Market Day
Olive had 5th grade market day again this week.  She wanted Christmas cookie play-doh and Christmas wreaths.  We made both and had a great time planning out all the details of mix ins and packaging.  She's hoping they sell well to her classmates!

Update: Olive completely sold out of all of her Christmas play-doh and bracelets!  She was beaming after school and was so proud that she made a product that so many kids loved.

8. Biking Buddies
Fletcher's favorite thing in the world is to go on bike rides.  He's always asking for someone to go on a bike ride with him and I try to say YES as much as possible.  He loves to check on the new builds, say hi to neighbors and look for creatures.

9. Wasabi
Evansville/Southern Indiana friends, I've got a new restaurant for you!  We ordered Wasabi to go for my birthday and it was DELICIOUS.  Chicken Yakisoba, Steak with noodles, rice and veggies and sushi for Kevin.  He said the sushi was amazing and we all licked our plates.  The portions are generous.  We had enough for a second meal which was nice because it was a little pricey.

10. Christmas Spirit
We love seeing all the holiday cheer this time of year.  This house along with several others nearby fill their yards up completely with inflatables.  It's wild!

11. Toddlers
This smile is my favorite.  The toothpaste coated eye brows and tooth brush water feature are not.  Never a dull moment with toddlers.

12. Storytime
We look forward to story time every week.  It's the best, free learning opportunity for toddlers.  It's also the perfect spot to meet up with friends.  Leo loved the ribbon wands and doing all the activities the librarian plans for the kids each week.

13. Lavender Christmas Tree
My SIL gave me this darling lavender tree for my birthday and it's so cute!  It's from Meijer and would be the perfect hostess gift or friend gift this Christmas season.  I have mine by my kitchen sink.  It smells amazing and is one of my favorite things this season.

Happy Friday!  I hope you have some fun plans with your favorite people this weekend.  I'll see you back here on Monday with some Amazon must haves and other fun Christmas content.

Linking up with Momfessionals

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Grocery Pick Up Gone Wrong

Are you a regular grocery pick up person?

It's been life changing for this busy mom.  

We live out of the boundaries of almost all the grocery delivery options so grocery pick up really is the easiest, quickest way for me to shop.  I order groceries on the go or at home in my pjs and can just drive up and have my groceries loaded at Walmart.  I try to stick to the same store and just schedule pick ups as needed instead of the same day every week.  I have a favorite grocery pick up girl.  She saves me all the best promotions and favors and I leave her excellent reviews on the surveys which earns her bonuses and prizes.  We're besties and it makes me laugh to see her fight for my order when she sees my name pop up.

I've had some funny grocery pick up issues lately that I thought I'd show you how I navigate.  They are all easy mistakes that I have made or my shopper has made that I figure out how to fix.  I quit asking Walmart to substitute my items after they changed their policy.  They used to sub bigger items for the same price as the item you wanted for no additional charge.  Now it seems like they tend to upsize your substitutions which adds to your bill.

Here are a few examples of my grocery shopping gone wrong and how I fixed them:

1. I ordered a big bag of frozen berries.  I received 3 boxes of mixed berry powder drink flavor instead.  I started a return through the app and chatted with someone from customer service.  They refunded my missing berries (and refunded my bananas because they were bruised and busted open long before they were put in my car).  They also emailed me a $5 coupon for my troubles.  Everything was fixed through chat within probably ten minutes.  It took longer to process than usual because I had a damaged item AND a missing item.

2. I received 4 bags of mini cucumbers that were drippy and rotten.  They were gross and I processed a full refund through the app.  It was frustrating because it was obvious that they were rotten and the shopper should have caught that, but I remind myself that grocery pick up still saves me so much time.

3. If you get a damaged item or the wrong item, get your money back!  It's really easy to chat through the app or on their website and within 5-10 minutes you'll get a refund.

4. I accidentally ordered three 32 oz bags of shredded mozzarella cheese instead of one.  Yikes!  I figured it was a shopper error, but it was my error.  I didn't proof my order well enough before submitting it.  I ended up freezing one bag because so many of my instagram friends said they freeze cheese all the time and I wanted to give that a try.  Then we have been getting creative with all this shredded cheese.  Check out the dinners we have been having with it.  They were delicious and no cheese is going to waste.

Taco Salad

This Fresh Cravings Poblano Street Corn Dip is AMAZING.  I have repurchased it many times.  No one else at my house likes it so it's my special taco topping treat!

Pepperoni Pinwheels

Cheese Quesadillas

Carne Asada Pork tacos with homemade pico

Pork taco bowls

While I'd definitely recommend you double checking your orders before you submit them, it can be a fun menu challenge if you end up with a much larger quantity of an item that you were expecting.  Lemonade out of lemons, right!?

Do you have any grocery pick up gone wrong stories to share with me??