Back to School: Giving Backpacks #ALDIGIVESBACK

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I was so excited when my friend, Amee from Real Advice Gal asked me to participate in her annual Giving Backpacks Campaign. This year’s event is generously sponsored by ALDI. Every year so many children start back to school without backpacks and much needed school supplies, which is heartbreaking. I can’t imagine my children not having the supplies they need for school.

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As soon as ALDI’s weekly ad came out, with school supplies as the *special buys of the week, we made a quick trip to our local store. First, my daughter picked out her favorite backpack.
*Available while quantities last. Items may not be available in all stores. Prices and labels may vary by location.

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Then, we grabbed school supplies. We know how fast students go through pencils and pens, so we stocked up enough to hopefully last a while.

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Here’s what we purchased. In addition to the backpack we bought several packs of pencils, pens, highlighters, and dry erase markers.

I’m going to take my kids with me to donate the backpacks to The Caring Place, a local non profit agency that helps those in need. Makes my heart happy to see my children so excited to GIVE.  In fact, they asked a lot of questions and were very curious as to why a kid would need school supplies. It was difficult for them to understand that some parents just can’t afford it.  It opened the door for us to talk about why, and how important it is to treat all children the same no matter what they have.  Although we talk about giving all the time, donating a backpack with school supplies seemed to really hit home to them.

You can also follow Aldi on social media by clicking on the links below:

https://www.facebook.com/ALDI.USA

https://twitter.com/aldiusa

Disclosure:  This event was sponsored by ALDI and coordinated by Real Advice Gal.  ALDI provided me with $25 to use toward purchasing school supplies.  All opinions and experiences are my own.  See my full disclosure policy here.

DIY Water Balloon Flip-Flops

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Dollar Tree has a summer collection of colorful flip-flop that would be perfect for this DIY!  Does anyone wear anything but flip-flops in the Summer? We spend so much time at the pool, or out playing in the sprinkler in our backyard that flip-flops are our regular attire. For a crafting project, I thought it would be fun for my daughter and I to decorate a pair of flip-flops. What better place to go shopping than Dollar Tree, where we can take advantage of their incredible already low prices during their Summer Fun flip-flop frenzy?

Flip-Flop Frenzy Details:

  • Flip-flops are available in solid colors (blue, black, pink, lime, turquoise, yellow, purple, and orange), as well as colorful patterns and styles. Colors and styles vary by store.
  • Flip-flops are available in men’s, women’s, and children’s sizes.
  • Also check out colorful Summer Fun housewares, party supplies, and toys.

After seeing so many different fun flip-flop crafts on Pinterest, my daughter and I settled on water balloon flip-flops. I’m not super-duper crafty, so I wanted to make sure we didn’t bite off more than we could chew.

Water balloon flip-flops are fun, easy and inexpensive to make. I’ve included the supply list and details below.

What you need:

  • flip-flops
  • 1 to 2 packs of water balloons

You’ll want to begin on one end of the flip-flop. First, gently stretch the balloon, then tie tightly in a double knot. Alternating the direction of each balloon, continue until the straps are covered. Make sure to tie balloons closely together. You can follow a color pattern or change it up, depending on your preference.

You’ll have lots and lots of water balloons left over for fun summer water balloon fights. You could probably get away with one pack, however I went ahead and grabbed two just in case. Even so, I ran out of green balloons quickly. My kids are already planning a water balloon fight this afternoon after they finish their school work.

Stay in the Loop:

  • Have you signed up for Dollar Tree’s free loyalty program, the Value Seekers Club? You’ll get access to exclusive crafts, recipes, and tip ideas every month. Visit www.ValueSeekersClub.com.
  • Learn more about new Dollar Tree products and contests as an email subscriber. Sign up for weekly emails here:
  • Follow Dollar Tree on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Dollar Tree via Burst Media. The opinions and text are all mine.

Burlington Stores Spring Shopping Spree

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I don’t know about you, but I love buying new clothes. Since I just had a baby 4 months ago, I haven’t quite gotten back into my clothes so I needed to pick up a couple of new tops for Spring. When I was approached by Burlington Stores to highlight 2015 ladies Spring fashion trends I was super excited! Not only could I pick up a couple of new pieces for my Spring wardrobe, but with Burlington’s fabulous prices (up to 65% off of retail price) I’d get more bang for my money!

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After church on Sunday, my hubby, 3 kids, and I loaded up to head to Burlington stores. Shopping with three kids is always an adventure, but it’s the season of life I’m in right now that I’m fully embracing. Thankfully, everyone cooperated and we were in and out of the store in record time. Nothing can make you shop faster than a hungry 4 month old baby.

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Specifically, I was looking for some of the 2015 ladies spring fashion trends -prints, florals, boho, white with a pop of color, color block, blush. I found four tops that I loved along with a floral scarf. The retail price for all the items was $252, but Burlimgton’s price was only $102.95. That’s a savings of 59%! WOW!! My favorite top is the gray tunic with floral scarf. I love the material, how it fits, and the pop of color that the scarf adds.

I wish I could take you on a shopping trip with me, but since that’s impossible I created a virtual shopping video so I could show you what I found. I apologize in advance for all the wind noise at the beginning of the video, it was so windy here in Tennessee yesterday. Plus, my local Burlington store was so packed full of shoppers we had to video in the baby section. Shout out to my amazing kiddos who were so good while mommy shopped and made the video!

Did you know that Burlington is committed to educating women about the importance of their heart health through their annual Red Dress Event in partnership with the national non-profit, WomenHeart, as heart disease is the leading cause of death in women.

  • Customers can donate $1 or more at checkout to support women’s heart health through March 31st
  • And for every dress purchased throughout the campaign, Burlington will donate $1, up to $25,000 to support WomenHeart whose mission is to educate and support women living with heart disease.

Don’t you want to go shopping after seeing these deals? Click here to locate a Burlington store near you.

Burlington Stores sponsored this blog post.  The opinions and text are all mine.

Saving for a SUNNY DAY #mysunnyday

Most of us have heard the importance of saving for a “rainy day.” We’ve always been intentional with our money.I am so thankful for our “rainy day” savings as a couple of years ago when my husband experienced three layoffs within five years. Having gone through that, we KNOW the importance of saving for those “rainy day,” or in our case “rainy years.” There will always be unexpected expenses. For me, having money in savings means peace of mind. It’s important to us to reestablish our savings as we slowly get back on our feet and recover from those years. Our goal is to have a 6 month emergency fund in our savings account. In order for us to accomplish this, we have to be intentional to put money in our savings account. [Read more...]

Donate a Coat at Burlington Stores to Help those in Need #CoatNotes

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I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but it’s really cold here in East Tennessee. In fact, schools were delayed this morning a couple of hours because of the bitter cold (that we aren’t used to). As I was laying in my warm bed this morning cuddled up with my little ones under covers I couldn’t help but think about how blessed we are. Although, my kids might get cold running from the house to the car or from the car into church, homeschool group, etc they will be bundled up in a coat, hat, and gloves. They might feel a little cold, but they won’t be freezing. As hard as it is for me to comprehend, many kids won’t have a coat today or this winter for that matter.

This reality hit me really hard at an outreach program at our church a couple of years ago. We set up a toy store at Christmas with brand new toys for families who wouldn’t be able to otherwise pick out toys for their children. I knew that many people couldn’t afford toys for their kids for Christmas but I wasn’t prepared to see kids with short sleeve shirts and sandals on their feet literally freezing in the middle of winter. Knowing my kids always have a winter coat, and sometimes more than one, it broke my heart.

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So, when I was contacted by Burlington stores about their 8th annual Warm Coats for Warm Hearts Coat Drive I couldn’t wait to participate. Sadly, 45 million Americans live in poverty and with temperatures dipping well below freezing, the need for warmth and coats is a must!

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This past weekend, my family and I rounded up our extra coats that no longer fit and made a trip to Burlington Stores to donate. Since most of us have extra coats lying around, I wanted to encourage you to do the same. As a thank you, Burlington Stores is offering 10% off your entire purchase for each coat donated. Plus, each coat donated helps local families in need. When you donate your coats, make sure to snap a picture and upload it to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #CoatNotes. By doing so, your story could appear on ABC’s Good Morning America. To locate a store in your area click here.

Donate a gently-worn coat at your nearby Burlington to help those locally in need. And when you do, receive Burlington’s thanks – 10% off your entire purchase.

Burlington, a national off-price retailer offering style for less with up to 65 percent off department store prices every day, continues to help local communities stay warm with their annual Warm Coats and Warm Hearts Coat Drive. Donated coats stay locally within each store community and are given to those most in need. With each coat donation, customers receive 10% off their entire purchase as Burlington’s thank you. A great way to give back and save money at the same time! Visit the Coat Drive site to learn more and where you can donate by 1/19/2015.

Burlington Stores sponsored this blog post. The opinions and text are all mine.

Meaningful within Your Means Check-In #holidaymeans

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you a post about being Meaningful within Your Means. Meaningful within Your Means is a challenge to try or do something differently this year so that we can avoid a case of the “overs-” and create lasting meaningful memories of the holidays. I wanted to check back in and give you an update on how I am doing with my goals and share a couple of new resources with you.

These were my personal goals from the first post a couple of weeks ago:

YOU – It’s all about simplification for me this year. I’m not stressing about mailing out the perfect Christmas card to friends and family. Honestly, the added expense is just not in our budget this year. It’s smarter to stick to our budget and be intentional in all of our commitments to reduce stress. (Here’s a link to a holiday budget planning spreadsheet to help ensure you stay within your means!) We will have a brand new baby this year, I can easily let go of perfectionism. I just want to create meaningful memories with my family.

TOGETHER – Since neither of our families live close by I want to be intentional to get together with friends during the holidays to celebrate the season. I’m committed to keeping it simple, and not creating added stress with fancy meals. With our families, I’d like to focus on creating memories and experiences together as a family instead of focusing on gift giving.

GIVING – Giving is my favorite part of the Christmas season. We always incorporate giving with our children. We also volunteer time at our church to help with benevolence ministries. I am committed to continuing this tradition with our family.

So, how am I doing? Well, right after I posted my goals I was admitted into the hospital and delivered our third baby. Our new baby, Jordan Hope, is now two weeks old and I have to be honest I haven’t thought about any of my Meaningful Within our Means goals for my family for Christmas. Instead, I along with my husband and two older children have been adoring our new baby girl. But, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to start. Instead of being discouraged, I realize that I have to consider my season of life and do the best that I can. I want to be real with you here, because I know life happens to all of us. The good news is that today is a new day and we can start brand new.

So, in keeping it simple and considering I have a newborn here are three things I can do this week:

1. Plan our Christmas list using the budgeting tool to make sure that we stay on budget thus avoiding any extra stress that comes with overspending.

2. Make Christmas cookies with my kids for my husband to take to his office to share with his co-workers. This has a two fold purpose. First, I want to create intentional memories and Christmas traditions with my children. They especially love baking together. Secondly, we want to make sure that we are “others” focused. Teaching my kids the importance of serving others is so important to my husband and I.

3. Pick an angel off the Salvation Army Angel Tree to bless this Christmas. In keeping with “others” focused we want to bless those in need and take the focus off of ourselves. We are blessed to be a blessing.

What about you? Here is a fabulous Holiday Planning guide from Suntrust to help you get started, plus you’ll want to check out the holiday hub site here for all of the Meaningful Within Your Means content. Don’t let this holiday season pass you by with regrets.

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. They want to help you reduce holiday stress through tools, advice, and inspiration that encourages you to make your holidays meaningful by spending within your means and focusing on meaningful experiences.

To get started visit holidaymeans.com

Meaningful spending made easy with our holiday planning guide. Download here

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.

Meaningful within Your Means #holidaymeans


The holidays can take a lot out of us and in the midst of all that joyful hustle and bustle, we can end up overspending. That’s why Suntrust Bank want to help us be meaningful within our means. Any bank can talk to us about just money. They want to turn the conversation to a different currency and ask us to think differently this year. It’s about depositing hope, instead of checks. And withdrawing stress, instead of cash. It’s about indulging in the currency of kindness and giving more than we receive.

Because the things that mean the most to you, are well within your means.

Now that I am grown and have children of my own I often reflect on childhood memories during the holidays. Interesting enough, none of my memories necessarily include gifts. Instead, holiday traditions come to the forefront of my mind.. Since we don’t live close to either one of our families, we’ve incorporated traditions from both of our families as well as created new ones of our own.

One of my favorite traditions is my mom’s homemade Christmas breakfast. When I lived at home, she made the same breakfast every Christmas morning. After we opened up our presents with my immediate family both sets of grandparents would come over and we would all share breakfast together. I always loved having my entire extended family together sharing a meal together while making memories. It was also my absolute favorite breakfast. Now that I have my own family, I prepare the same breakfast on Christmas morning. Even though our families don’t live close enough to join us, I always think of them while enjoying breakfast with my family.

One thing I have learned, if I’m not careful I can make a holiday meant for joy and peace to instead to be stressful all in the name of creating traditions for my families. In fact, I’ve been on a mission the past couple of years to simplify our holiday. With the added stresses of finances, traveling to see family, gift buying, and everything else that goes into the holiday season it’s so easy to get off track. As adults we spend A LOT of time trying to recreate those feelings and memories we had as children. While we may succeed, we also tend to create a lot of stress while money is just sucked right out of us. Meaningful within Your Means is a challenge to try or do something differently this year so that we can avoid a case of the “overs-” and create lasting meaningful memories of the holidays.

There are 3 “areas” of this challenge. Try and do something from each area.

1. YOU – no one’s holiday is going to be enjoyable if you are not able to enjoy it yourself. You need to make time for yourself daily/weekly.

Examples:
a. Liberate – Skip that ritual that stresses you out!…newsletter style holiday cards, baking 50 dozen cookies, Griswold style Christmas lights…)
b. Let go of perfectionism.
c. While you may have an iron clad budget, do you have a holiday budget? Use the holiday planning guide to make sure you have accounted for all those expenses that sneak up through the holiday season…going to 6 holiday parties can get expensive! What is the going rate for a sitter these days? Going away? Need to board a dog or get a pet sitter? $$$
d. Manage expectations early on – this is one that can have the biggest impact to your budget. Gift giving…everyone, draw names, nothing…you need to soon so that everyone is on board

2. TOGETHER – Being with family and friends is what the holidays are all about.

Examples:
a. Do something together as a family every week in Dec – something FREE. Drive around and look at lights, hot chocolate and holiday specials night, look for community activities to participate in, family tacky sweater day…
b. In lieu of gifts, you and your friends do something together as a group. Potluck at someone’s house, reservations at that great new restaurant everyone has been wanting to try.

3. GIVE – there are many opportunities to give during the holidays. This is also a great time to teach children the importance of giving. This is something that also makes a great TOGETHER activity, giving your time to volunteer as a family.

Examples:
a. Instead of gifts, make a donation to a charity that is important to you. You can make one large one in honor of all your friends and family or divide up into groups (family, different circles of friends –work, neighborhood, college etc) and make smaller donations to a few groups
b. Ask your church or a church in your community if they know of any families that need a little “extra” this season and put together a care package for them to be delivered anonymously.


My daughter and I volunteering at the “Magi Project.”

Personally, I am accepting the Meaningful within our Means challenge for my family. With a brand new baby this year, I’ve got to be intentional, otherwise I’ll end up stressed. I’ve included my personal commitments below:

YOU – It’s all about simplification for me this year. I’m not stressing about mailing out the perfect Christmas card to friends and family. Honestly, the added expense is just not in our budget this year. It’s smarter to stick to our budget and be intentional in all of our commitments to reduce stress. (Here’s a link to a holiday budget planning spreadsheet to help ensure you stay within your means!) We will have a brand new baby this year, I can easily let go of perfectionism. I just want to create meaningful memories with my family.

TOGETHER - Since neither of our families live close by I want to be intentional to get together with friends during the holidays to celebrate the season. I’m committed to keeping it simple, and not creating added stress with fancy meals. With our families, I’d like to focus on creating memories and experiences together as a family instead of focusing on gift giving.

GIVING – Giving is my favorite part of the Christmas season. We always incorporate giving with our children. We also volunteer time at our church to help with benevolence ministries. I am committed to continuing this tradition with our family.

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. They want to help you reduce holiday stress through tools, advice, and inspiration that encourages you to make your holidays meaningful by spending within your means and focusing on meaningful experiences.

To get started visit suntrust.com/holiday

Meaningful spending made easy with a budgeting tool to help you make a plan and stay on track with your holiday spending. Download here.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.

Let’s Talk Pregnancy Cravings & Morning Sickness

Thirty-seven weeks at my baby shower with my sweet friends, Kristin and Sarah.

As most of you already know, we are expecting our 3rd baby any day. So, morning sickness isn’t too far from my memory. I don’t know about you, but in all my pregnancies I’ve always experienced morning sickness. It usually hits me around 6 weeks and continues until at least 14-16 weeks. I don’t know who initially coined the phrase “morning sickness” as what I have experienced lasts all day long and through the night as well.


Twenty-two weeks pregnant with my broken foot and crutches playing putt-putt with my family. I was determined not to let it slow me down.

During this pregnancy I was extremely nauseous about 22 out of 24 hours of the day for the first 14 weeks. Then, it began to fade. I also broke my foot on the day I turned 14 weeks, so it might have been that my foot just hurt worse than the nausea. I did find a couple of things that helped give me a little relief that I thought I’d share with you in case they might be helpful. Also, I was recently introduced to Sea-Band Mama products which sounds amazing! I wish I had known about them earlier especially since they are drug free.

What I found to help with morning sickness:

•Eat small frequent meals throughout the day every 2 or 3 hours. I found that large meals didn’t settle well and if I allowed myself to get really hungry the nausea was worse.

•Hit the pavement. I know this sounds a bit crazy, but if I made myself push through the nausea and go for a walk it made me feel better. Of course, once I broke my foot this option was off the table and I really missed it. I found that I also had more energy when I was able to get out and go for a walk.

•Avoid spicy foods. Bland foods and bread seemed to settle best for me.

•The new Sea-Band Mama line, from the maker of popular motion sickness line of Sea-Band products, was developed for pregnant women, including drug-free morning sickness wrist bands and anti-nausea ginger lozenges – now available at CVS. (So wish I had heard about this earlier in my pregnancy! That’s why I’m sharing with you!)

As long as I’m sharing about my pregnancies I thought I’d let you in on my crazy cravings during this pregnancy. Usually, we eat very clean and healthy foods like fresh fruits, veggies, and lean protein. We eat very little boxed/packaged foods, fried foods, sugar, or white flour. Note, I said usually. None of those foods sounded good to me during the first 4 months of this pregnancy. Instead, I craved French Fries, yeast rolls, mashed potatoes, and cookies!! Once I got past twenty weeks, healthier foods sounded good to me again although I have to admit that the other cravings I have mentioned have also stuck around. Thankfully, I have still been very careful with portion control, which has helped keep my weight gain down.

If you are suffering from morning sickness or know someone who is, pass along this information about new Sea-Band Mama drug free anti-nausea wristbands and ginger lozenges available at CVS. For more information, make sure to take a peek at this YouTube video here or Sea-Band Mama facebook page here.

For more information about Sea-Band® Mama and to learn more about morning sickness visit http://www.sea-band.com/mama 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sea-Band Mama. The opinions and text are all mine.