Most people that know us are aware that we buy our kids 1 present each for their birthday and 3 presents each for Christmas. We don’t do the want/wear/need/read thing because no toddler wants clothes for Christmas. They have all of the clothing they need for winter before Christmas even comes around. They don’t need anything because needs are satisfied as they arise. We check out books from the library versus buying them because books tend to be overwhelming to me in mass numbers. I try to keep our possessions at a manageable number.
That said, it doesn’t make choosing the Christmas gifts any easier for me. Let’s face it, my husband doesn’t do anything to prepare for the holidays aside from putting up the tree (if I bug him enough to do it) besides just showing up. That’s okay! More fun for me!
Haba Room Tent- Marakesh
This is one pricey, but so adorable! I trust in the quality of Haba products so I don’t want to cry at the price.
Melissa and Doug Car Carrier
My older daughter loves seeing these trucks on the interstate and around town!
Green Toys Race Car
This company uses recycled plastic to make their toys, so they are guilt free! We have the stacking cups made by them that we got in out Sproutkin box and my girls love them.
Step2 Naturally Playful Playhouse Climber & Swing Extension
We are moving into a new house soon and this would be PERFECT!
Play-Doh Perfect Twist Ice Cream Playset
My older daughter has been b-e-g-g-i-n-g me for this set.
After the amazing Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, I’m not sure what will end up under our Christmas Tree!
I try to do whatever I can to leave a smaller carbon footprint. I drive a Prius, cloth diaper my kids, use un-paper towels (though we still use regular paper towels too), use chlorine and ammonia free household cleaners, etc. The list goes on.
Plastic is somewhere I tend to struggle at times because it’s so prevalent in our everyday lives. Plastic is a big pollutant because it takes around 500 years to decompose on it’s on. Many cities, such as my own, have little-to-no recycling options. It is composed of harsh chemicals that can be bad for our health. You have probably heard of the BPA issue by now. Plastics are also generally made from petroleum. Petroleum harvesting is not only dangerous, but very expensive. BP Oil Spill in the Gulf coming to mind? Our area lost a huge part of it’s income due to the damage it caused.
Our family typically spends $12 per month on toothbrushes. Not only is this expensive (thanks to the batteries that always seem to die in our Pulsar’s which can’t be replaced), but it’s a lot of plastic going in the trash. I set out to search for a better option, and I bet you could imagine my excitement when I found these bamboo toothbrushes!
This set is made by Izola and comes in a pack of 4 for $12 ($3 per toothbrush). The price is comparable to a normal toothbrush at the store. When the toothbrush is ready to be replaced, simply pull the bristles out with pliers and recycle them, and you can compost the bamboo handle. There are different options for the print on the handle that can help remind you whose brush is whose or when it’s time to switch brushes.
These are made by Brush with Bamboo and are twice the price, but feature a curved handle. Both the packaging and toothbrush can be composted.
There are also kid toothbrushes available. The options are endless!
As I have been couponing, it has become quite a mess. Coupons are tiny pieces of paper that get everywhere! I usually keep them in an envelope or container. Since I plan out my trips, I only take the coupons with me that I need. I do not carry around 17 binders in the store with me like other people you may see.
To help organize my little “hobby” (my husband’s words–not mine) I ordered a few things from amazon. This might not be the perfect set-up for everyone, but it works well for me.
I have two little kids, so scissors are always a concern. They are also inconvenient to carry around with you in the event you need to clip a coupon in the car or store. This coupon slicer solves the problem:
It’s safe if you forget and leave it out around the kids, small so you can take it anywhere, and as an added bonus I’ve also used it to cut wrapping paper!
In the coupon world, binders are something serious. I like to keep mine simple with just two different page types. You might find that you like more options, but these two sizes fit both my computer printed coupons as well as the ones from circulars (and everything in between).
Last, and arguably most important, you have to choose a binder. Some people like zippered trapper keepers while others prefer a simple 3-ring binder. You will have many options for size, color, and design. I chose a 1″ 3-ring Kraft binder from Wilson.
I hope this helps give you a couple of good ideas on what you can do to be more “coupon organized.” Feel free to comment with your organization solution!
We have tried a lot of infant and toddler feeding spoons and contraptions. Let me tell you, though, OXO Tot Feeding Spoons are the best! They come in three awesome colors: aqua, pink, and green.
The scooped shape in unlike any other spoon I have found. The shape makes it so easy for a little baby (4 months) to eat from a spoon. The end of the spoon is covered in a see through silicon. The silicon is soft enough for the baby’s gums, but hard enough to not be destroyed when they chomp down and don’t let go. Since the edge is so soft, you can use it to easily shovel stray food from your baby’s face back into their mouth.
The handle is designed well and is comfortable to hold for extended periods of time (because we all know how long the feeding process can take sometimes). We put them through the dishwasher and they come out looking new again. Our spoons actually still look brand new and they’ve been in constant use for 6 months now. We have 8 spoons, and it’s the perfect number.
Don’t let the higher price scare you away–OXO Tot Feeding Spoons really are the best!
Sproutkin is a monthly subscription box for children that encourages reading and fosters educational development. They have a box for children 0-3 years (Infants & Toddlers) that includes a theme, 2-4 books, and an activity card that is all yours to keep. Sometimes the box might include a toy that is age appropriate instead of a book. The value of the box can be up to 45% off retail price.
In addition to the Infants & Toddlers box, Sproutkin offers a Preschool box for children 3-6 years old that is based off of a totally different concept. With this box, you receive a theme, 10 books, and an activity card. However, this box is based on the library system, so you must return the books when you are done reading them. You can return them as often as you like (meaning you are able to receive 40 books per month if you return your boxes weekly).
Our box arrived a few days after our Infants & Toddlers box even though we ordered them on the same day. My older daughter kept asking me when her new books were coming, but explaining the concept of returning the package confused her.
We received the Bon Appetit! theme.
The activities included a yummy recipe for us to try!
Here are the 10 books included in our box. Most of them were a real hit! Although, I will admit that some seemed too advanced for my 3.5 year old and she lost interest before I was half way through them.
Sproutkin also gives you the option to keep a book if you love it! Just send back the rest of the books and they will charge your card Retail minus 10% for the book.
Each Preschool Sproutkit includes a pre-paid return postage label. Just put the books back in the same box they came in, attach the label, and drop off the package. You can log on to your account to request a new box before you ship your old one so you are never without a box. You can also just simply return the old box and they will automatically ship a new one when they receive it.
This box was developed for parents who don’t necessarily have the time to make it to the library with their child to pick out books. So Sproutkin picks the books out for you and saves you a trip.
So what is the cost for this box? $24.95 per month
Overall: I probably won’t renew my subscription to the Preschool box because we make weekly trips to the library for story time and such. However, if a library weren’t available or we simply didn’t have the time, this subscription box would be perfect!
You can get a FREE month subscription to the Preschool box with code MYFOURLITTLES.
ibotta is a neat little app available on both iPhone and Android phones that allows you to earn cash by redeeming offers. You can use ibotta in addition to your coupons for maximum savings, or just by itself in the event you don’t want to mess with coupons.
How ibotta works:
1. Choose the products you want and complete the associated tasks. These could include a poll, survey, learning a fact, or sharing on a social network such as Facebook or Twitter. The first 3 are super easy and involve 1 click.
2. Go to a participating store and purchase the products. If you aren’t sure if something qualifies, you can scan it within the app for verification.
3. Upload your receipt to the app and wait for a confirmation. Receipts can’t be older than a week or used more than once.
It’s super easy to use and lines up with coupons pretty often. They also have a new Bonuses program that enables you to earn even more money!
For a limited time, ibotta is offering $10 if you register a new account and redeem 5 offers within the first two weeks!
Coupons are a great way to save money, but knowing how to use them can make a huge difference in the amount you are saving. I do not ever step foot in WalMart. I hate that place! I shop at Publix and Target (occasionally Winn Dixie if there is a good sale) and can still keep our family food budget under $400 without much effort. I would love to see that number creep down to $250 per month for our family of 4.
Both Publix and Target produce store coupons. Publix accepts competitor coupons (Winn Dixie for me–but varies by store). Most of Publix’s store coupons are found in booklets available in the store, so keep an eye out. They also have coupons you can load to your Publix account online and then you enter your phone number at checkout to redeeem them, but these are usually manufacturer coupons. Target’s store coupons are available on their website mixed in with manufacturer coupons. Both Publix and Target will accept one store coupon AND one manufacturer coupon per item. There are also a few other great free printable coupon options online.
I don’t subscribe to the weekly paper, so I miss out on the coupons. If I know there is one I want multiples of, I order it from The Coupon Clippers. They are a coupon clipping service that charges $0.05-$0.20 per coupon plus a small shipping fee. For me, it’s totally worth it to not have to waste so much precious time hunting down and clipping the coupons!
The following are websites I consistently use each week:
- Target Store Coupons
- Publix Digital Coupons
- The Coupon Clippers
- I Heart Publix (coupon+sale match-ups)
- Totally Target (sale alerts and coupon+sale match-ups)
Julep Maven is a subscription box service from the company that manufactures the products (Julep). For your first box, you log on to their website and take a style quiz. At the end of the quiz, they identify you with a style type and the corresponding box. Don’t like it? That’s ok! You can choose from among any of the introductory boxes. Then, between the 20th and 24th of each month, you can log back on to the website and see what your style profile box will contain. You can also trade this for any other box if you don’t like yours. If you don’t like any of the boxes, you can choose to skip a month (no charge). You just have to make sure you log on during the time frame and let them know what you decide. They e-mail you each month to remind you!
Let me first say, there are a lot of mixed reviews on this nail polish brand (either love or hate) so I was hesitant to order. However, Sephora sells the Julep brand so I took my chances. After a week full of rain, my mail man pounded like the police on my door and I was happy to see him holding this sweet little box. I think my mail man actually hates me because of the amount of mail he has to physically walk to my door.
I can appreciate the minimalist look to their packaging. Upon opening the box, I found another box. I’m not so sure I like the wasted packaging of another box, as it just creates a bigger trip to the recycling center for me. Our city is not very recycle friendly and I only know of one local carrier who picks up recycling with their garbage route (and it’s not ours).
The box contained some papers explaining the program. I chose the Boho Glam style profile.
I took out the “goods.” Since I chose my box, I already knew what I was getting. I got two creme polishes and cuticle oil. They also included a sample of hand creme.
The polish bottles are so different, but I love them! I think the colors I got are awesome! I’ve already tried them both. I usually use OPI, and I found both the consistency of the polish and the size of the brush to be similar. Most of the bad reviews I read online complained about the formula being too thick and the brush being too wide, so I’m assuming they might be switching from a cheap polish. Either way, I found the polish easy to work with. The dry time was average for me. The cuticle oil smelled good!
They also give you the option to add on up to 4 items to your box at a discounted price each month. I was out a nail polish remover, so I ordered some of their acetone free remover. It is a great nail conditioner and comes with a pump (spill proof) lid with a locking feature.
I also ordered some of the Freedom Polymer top coat. It dries super fast and is supposed to be similar to gel polish. I will never use another top coat again. This stuff is the best ever!
A normal subscription to Julep is $19.99 per month.
Retail Value of Box:
(1) Gabrielle Julep Creme Polish–$14.00
(2) Clara Julep Creme Polish–$14.00
(3) Essential Cuticle Oil–$18.00
(4) Julep Acetone-Free Conditioning Nail Polish Remover–$14.00
(5) Freedom Polymer Top Coat–$18.00
Total Retail Value = $78.00
I used code FREEBOX for a free introductory box.
(1) Gabrielle Julep Creme Polish–FREE
(2) Clara Julep Creme Polish–FREE
(3) Essential Cuticle Oil–FREE
(4) Julep Acetone-Free Conditioning Nail Polish Remover–$4.99
(5) Freedom Polymer Top Coat–$6.99
Total Price Paid = $11.98
I will definitely be getting another Julep Maven box! I feel like I got a good deal and like everything that came in my box. Don’t forget code FREEBOX gets you a free introductory box ($3.99 shipping if you don’t choose add-ons).
Easy recipes are great, but easy recipes for the crock pot (slow cooker) are FANTASTIC! I love being able to put supper (dinner) in the crock pot in the morning and having it be ready at dinner without much more thought.
This is the simplest of simple recipes and it is super delicious! I like to make extra so we can have lunch squared away for a couple of days that week as well. It is always virtually impossible to mess it up!
Super Easy Crock Pot Pulled Pork Sandwiches
- Pork (I usually use 2 lbs. of whatever I have laying around in the freezer–boneless pork chops and boneless ribs–but you can really use whatever cut of pork you want, just make sure to thaw it first if it’s frozen.)
- Barbeque Sauce (any kind–I like approximately 1 bottle per 1.5 lbs of pork)
- Hamburger buns
You will also need a crock pot! This is mine:
1. Add pork to crock pot. Cover with water (about 1/2″ over the top of the pork works well).
2. Cook on LOW for 10-12 hours. Do not remove the lid during the cooking process. It does not need to be stirred.
3. Remove pork from crock pot and place in a bowl. Remove the fat, if any, from the pork. It will pull off easily.
4. Use to forks to pull the pork apart until it is evenly shredded.
5. Stir in barbeque sauce. Start with a small amount and gradually add more until the pulled pork reaches a consistency that you like. (I like a lot!)
6. If you are making this the day before you need it, at this point you can cover it and put it in the refrigerator until you need it. (Otherwise empty the juices from the crock pot and add the pulled pork back in. Set on LOW until heated through.)
7. If you have refrigerated your pulled pork do the following: (1) Preheat oven to 350° F. (2) Put pork in a baking dish. (3) Baked until heated through–usually around 20 minutes.
8. Butter your hamburger buns and cook them until toasted to your liking in a pan over medium heat.
9. Add the pulled pork to the bun and enjoy!
If you have pork left over, you can reheat it the next day and have sandwiches again! This recipe is so easy and super versatile! We usually use Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, but I got the kind pictured on sale and with a coupon from Publix for $0.47 a bottle!
I might be in the minority, but clutter drives me insane. Literally–crazy! I feel like my mind is cluttered and I can’t think. I start yelling at my husband a lot more than normal. Then I usually stop, look at my surroundings, and realize that my house isn’t neat and organized the way I prefer it to be.
There is just something inside me that thrives on organization. However, having two small kids the organization part gets lost sometimes. I don’t have animals because I don’t want an extra mess to clean up at the end of the day.
I started doing some reading and discovered the principles of minimalism would be beneficial for me to follow. Having less stuff leaves less opportunity to create messes (since the mess can only be as big as the items it encompasses). Having less stuff means having more space. Having less stuff means organization comes a lot easier. Having less stuff and less messes means more free time because you aren’t spending it cleaning, organizing, and taking care of all that extra stuff. Sign me up!
There is no guide-book on minimalism (there’s actually a lot but you will find that they are all different). An extreme minimalist only possess the bare minimum needed for survival. Most extreme minimalists can fit all of their possessions in their backpack! If you have moved before, you probably know that you don’t ever want to do it again. That’s because you have so many possessions that it becomes a gruesome task. It takes some people 6 months to unpack all of their belongings simply because that much stuff is overwhelming! Think about how awesome it would be to just be able to throw on your backpack and move. There’s a lot less stress involved when less stuff is involved.
Example: If 4 people live in your house, you don’t need 50 towels! (Go ahead, count them! I did and was shocked–we had 48!) We now have 12 towels which is still a little more than we need, but it’s a number that works well for us since I only do towel laundry once a week.
In the future you will see posts about me getting rid of mounds of stuff during one of my minimalist binges and I just felt like I needed to give you a little back story first.
Does the idea of having less stuff intrigue you? Here’s a few of my favorite minimalist things:
- The Minimalist Mom Blog
- The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life (I’ve read this book multiple times!)
- The Project 333 This is a clothing challenge that has many great benefits!