Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Sneaky Ways to Save Money

The prices of everything from groceries to household goods are really increasing right now.  It's kind of disheartening to see how your money doesn't go as far as it used to a few years ago.  I am always on the hunt for ways to save us money.  I'm excited to share some sneaky money saving tips with you today.

1 // Eat at Home

Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with meal options that your family enjoys.  I know that groceries are high, but eating out is even more expensive. You will still save money by eating at home.  My crew wanted soup and sandwiches for lunch one weekend.  I made this for all of us for under $10.  It likely would have cost us $10+ per person to go out to lunch somewhere.  Challenge yourself to keep quick and easy foods on hand for easy meals.  It'll save you lots of money!

2 // Compare Prices

I've been on the hunt for some new walking shoes.  I finally found some that were comfy that I really liked.  The price seemed high at Shoe Carnival so I did a quick Amazon price comparison.  The exact same shoe in my size was $79.99 on Amazon.  I was shocked!  We paid for the kid's shoes that they'd picked out and I went home and ordered mine on Amazon.  I paid for both of the kid's shoes with my savings.  Hunt around if you need to buy something new to make sure you are getting the best deal.

3 // Save and Reuse

If you order from Door Dash or get take out regularly, save your extra sauces and reuse them for other meals.  Door Dash isn't cheap, but it is cheaper than taking our family out to a restaurant.  We always save our sauces in a gallon ziploc and then I reuse them for dinners.  I'll show you how below.


I used a can of chicken, packets of bold bbq sauce, shredded cheese and these mini Naan flatbreads from Aldi.  It made the yummiest bbq chicken pizzas for us.  It felt good to have all this bbq sauce saved to reuse for another dinner.

4 // Use What You Have

Go through you bathroom cabinets and use up the toothpaste, make up, hair products, etc that you already own before buying new.  I'm currently using a toothpaste I don't love because I didn't want to waste it.  The kids are doing the same and are not happy about it.  Haha.  I remind them often that groceries are expensive and that we don't want to waste money.

5 // Prep Food

This can mean meal prepping food for your family throughout the week or preparing food for something like a night with a babysitter.  My kids love pasta night so I regularly do this set up for a babysitter.  I brown the meat, roast broccoli and boil noodles ahead of time.  I put everything in glass containers.  Then I cover everything with foil and label them.  About an hour before the babysitter arrives I pop everything in the oven.  That way it's all hot and ready at dinner time without causing too much work for the babysitter.  This is much cheaper than going through a drive thru to get dinner for everyone.

6 // Organize Your Stuff

You will save yourself a lot of money if you keep things like your pantry, your craft closet, your holiday closets and your clothes closets organized.  I overheard some ladies at Hobby Lobby say something like this - I have no idea where my ribbon is at home so I'm just going to buy more ribbon.  That's fine from time to time, but it is pricey to always be overbuying.  If you know what you have at home, you won't risk buying multiples.  I recently cleaned out this craft closet.  I know what extra art supplies we have and I know that I have plenty of glue sticks for my glue gun.

What things are you doing in 2023 to save money?

I'm all ears!

Monday, January 30, 2023

Tips for Doing Family Photos with a Large Group

Have you ever done family pictures with your whole extended family?

It's a lot of work, but it's always worth it.

It's become a tradition that we do family pictures with my whole side of the family every other year.  I'm usually the one to get everything organized and then each mom takes care of their own family. 

There are 18 of us from age two to my dad.  My cousin is a photographer and we gift my mom a photo session gift card usually for Mother's Day that year.  We let my mom pick the color scheme of typically 3 or 4 colors and then each family shops for clothes they like within that color palette.  It always comes together nicely after a lot of work (scheduling, making sure everyone is healthy, hoping the weather cooperates and finding cute outfits for everyone).  We do them in the Fall so that we all end up with Christmas card photo options.  Our system works great for us!

These are my favorite pictures yet.  I love the colors and the textures for Fall.  We have talked about doing different locations, but doing them in my parent's back yard is easiest.  We plan them for the golden hour of the day and then my mom cooks dinner for everyone afterwards.

 The whole cousin crew!  I love seeing all 10 lined up from oldest to youngest.

These cute girls are all close in age!

My parent's Christmas card photo.

The OG Heilmans.  I'm the oldest, my sister is the middle and my brother is the baby of the family.

Mom and Dad / Mimi & Papaw

My cousin shoots our individual family photos, head shots of all the kids, whole group and some special request groups like grand kids and grand parents or all the guys and all the girls.  It takes less than an hour to do the whole group.  These head shots are almost always way better than their school pictures.  They just seem more natural and comfortable.

Our Christmas card photo and my favorite family photo of the session.  Leo was not super happy to be taking photos so we let him grab a stick to make him happy.  It perfectly captures his busy self.

I need to get some big prints printed soon!

Let me know if you have any questions about organizing family photos.  It's a labor of love and it's definitely worth the effort.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, friends!  I hope you've had a good week.  It's been a fun one here!


Did you catch my blog posts this week?

Free Fun at the Library

Crinkle Cut Charcuterie Board - my kids are obsessed with everything crinkle cut!!

Don't Forget to RSVP

Now on to my favorite moments of the week:

1 // Go Aces!

We went to an Aces basketball game this week and Kevin surprised us with being part of the entertainment!  He actually told me a couple of days in advance because I don't love surprises, but he surprised the kids at the game :)  He'd been chosen to putt a ball across the entire court to try to win $10,000.  It was so fun to cheer for him.  He didn't make it in the tiny $10k slot, but they told him that was the closest anyone has come all season.

Kevin usually just takes the big kids to the games since they start at 7:00pm.  That's a little too close to Leo's bed time.  It was fun to sit with my Dad and enjoy the game together.  Lots of smiles and fun times together!

2 // New Cookies: Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies

I added these to my Jordan Bakery box menu.  They're delicious!  Dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate and sour dough bread starter.  I've been on the hunt for some great recipes to use my sour dough discard in and these are perfect.

3 // We did it!

Kevin only travels a few times a year and usually for just a few days at a time.  This year he headed to a conference in Santa Fe and had trouble getting home.  He got some weather delays causing him to just miss his connecting flight in Dallas by minutes.  He had to spend the night in Dallas and got home the following afternoon.  It was a long week for all of us - lots of smiles and a few tears!  Kevin loves to grab souvenirs for everyone - Santa Fe t-shirts and candy for the kids and a pretty bracelet for me.

4 // Crinkle Cut

I've been on a crinkle cut kick all week!  Look at all this crinkle cut food on our charcuterie dinner board.  I cut apples, carrots, cucumbers and cheese with my crinkle cutter.  I've even been crinkle cutting things for their school lunches!  You can get the links to make your own crinkle cut foods here.


5 // Latte Lover

Olive is very proud to say that she can now make her very own caramel latte.  I taught her all the steps, showed her all the ingredients and only had a few spills/broken cups in the process :)  She's really proud to be able to make this by herself now.

6 // Sunrise

We've had some pretty frosty sunrises this week!

7 // Great Grandmas

Leo and I dropped off treats and snacks to our favorite great grandmas this week.

8 // Lunch dates

We got to meet our favorite friend Jacque at our favorite lunch spot this week!  We all love Jason's Deli.

9 // Pretty hair!

Olive loves a good pony tail and look at this pretty braid.  We laugh because it took her years and years to grown hair (like it did for me) and now she's got a head full of hair.

10 // Organizing Mood

Organizing is my favorite and I've been busy.  This week I tackled the kid's bathroom, our craft closet, pantry and kitchen drawers.  I threw out lots of trash, organized what I wanted to keep and spent $0.  Follow me on instagram (@polkadottyplace) if you want some organizing inspiration!

I love saving sturdy little boxes to help me organize inside of drawers.  I added some binder clips to connect them and keep everything for sliding.  It feels so good to get these spaces in order without spending any money.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Linking up with Momfessionals

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Don't Forget to RSVP

Has your child ever brought home a birthday invitation from a classmate or friend?

It's customary at many schools today to invite the whole class or to go through social media to extend invitations to friends.

I want to encourage you to make sure that you RSVP ASAP.  This eliminates the possibility of forgetting to RSVP or for the invitation to get lost in a stack of papers.

Do your best to try to attend the party if your child is close to that classmate or friend.  But if you cannot make it to the party, be sure to let the parents know right away.  It breaks my heart to think about kids inviting their class to a party and no one showing up.  Parties are expensive and if you do not RSVP they will likely still count you in for the food or favor totals just in case your child comes.

Most RSVP can be done by text or email or Facebook RSVP and do not require much time at all.

Olive got invited to a couple of parties so far this year.  One we could not attend so I emailed the parent.  Another one was from a classmate that she did not know well so I texted our RSVP.  And then another I texted to work out the details after Olive gave her friend my number.

Fletcher's invitation came home in his school folder and asked that we text to RSVP.

Each time I sent my RSVPs the parents were so appreciative.  Even if we couldn't make it to the party.  

It is courteous and polite to give a reply when someone is expecting a response.

So if you get invited to a party, and an RSVP is requested, do not ignore it.

Fletcher at his friend's bowling birthday party.  He really enjoyed shopping for her and loved celebrating with his buddies.  The host provided drinks, pizza, cupcakes and bowling so I'm glad that we RSVP'd ahead of time to let her know we would be there.

Do you have any RSVPs that need your attention today?

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Crinkle Cut Charcuterie Board

I've been seeing the crinkle cut charcuterie boards popping up and I wanted to give it a try.  I have had a Pampered Chef crinkle cutter for close to 20 years.  It still works great and my kids love it when I cut their food with it.

I put a charcuterie board on our dinner menu this week.  I served it with soft pretzels + queso cheese dip the first time and the next time we eat it later in the week, I will serve it with homemade bread.  I always like to add something warm to my board when we have it for dinner.  It makes the board feel a little more filling and hearty.

I crinkle cut 2 kinds of cheese, apple slices, carrots and cucumbers.  I was shocked at how much easier chopping cheese was with my crinkle cutter!  t would be really fun to crinkle cut more cheese, melons and strawberries when they're in season.


 I love when I serve big boards for dinner because I can fill the kid's lunchboxes with leftovers!

Would your family enjoy this for dinner or lunches?

Here are some crinkle cutter options on Amazon like mine in case you want to give it a try!

My kids would love to help me crinkle cut with these small cutters and I think the knife would be really handy, too. Our favorite charcuterie board for dinners is this spinning wooden one.  I linked a similar one below as well as our #1 favorite lunch box the Yumbox Original for the past 6 years!

Affiliate links below.  Thanks for supporting PDP!

Monday, January 23, 2023

Free Fun at the Library

Do you have a current library card?

Our library requires you to update them every 2 years to keep them current to check out materials.  I think that has been true for our past several city libraries.

A library card is free as long as you live in the same county as your library.

I want to encourage you today to get a library card!

There are so many free things for kids and adults through the library.

We go to our library regularly to get books and play.  They offer free craft kits to take home and do.  They often have scavenger hunts in the kid's department.  You play and enter in your game board for the drawing.  Olive actually won a few months ago and got free books to keep.

I love to be able to reserve books online for myself and for the kids.  This is really helpful if your kids are reading a series and they want to read the books in order.  It's tricky to just walk into the library and hope they have the next book your child wants.  It's so handy - you check out everything online and then you walk right up to the reserved section and can quickly check out your books.

There are story times, after school book clubs, events and speakers.  Our library has a busy calendar every month.  And you can borrow books to read on your kindle for free through Libby and Hoopla.

Most recently we checked out some new DVDs to watch in the car.  That would be fun to do before a trip.  And we have checked out a WiFi hotspot to take with us on vacation.  All for free.  It just took a little planning ahead to reserve it for the time of our trip.

The kids love playing at our library.  They rotate the toys and themed play options often.  We have played at a grocery store, laundry mat, game station and a camp site.  I bring a book to read and they play.  They love visiting the art tables, too.

The Crafts at Home kits are so cute.  They come with almost everything you need and great instructions.  The kids loved doing this paper weaving pumpkin.  They have also made robots, polar bears, snowmen and more.

If you want to have holiday books to read to your kids, but don't want spend the money each holiday, the library can help!  I love checking out holiday books for free.

There are so many neat things to see and do and learn through the library!  I hope this encourages you to visit your local library ASAP.  There really is something for everyone.