homemade ginger

Dollar Store Closet Makeover

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Does everyone have one scary closet or drawer in their home? The one that you just throw everything and pray that guests don't open the door? Well, I have a few of these places but our hallway closet was by far the worst. It started out somewhat organized and then slowly became a dumping ground over time. I decided to hit up the Dollar Tree and give the closet a makeover for as inexpensively as possible.  Now I get so happy when I open those doors!

Brace yourselves, because this is what our closet had become. It's bad:

I went to Dollar Tree (this post is NOT sponsored by the way, I just love that place!) and I grabbed as many organizers that I could find. I decided to go with all the same color to keep things looking as neat as possible. When using cheapo plastic containers, using the same color makes things look a little more upscale and pulled together.  I also used some leftover white paint and painted over all of that dark wood. This was one of the last places in our home where the dark wood still existed. Our home was literally floor to ceiling dark wood when we moved in 6 years ago.

I also picked up these cute chalkboard labels at Dollar Tree! I used a chalk pen from the Target dollar spot and labeled each container. This is key (for me) in keeping things organized. I tend to just start throwing things places when I don't have a specific spot for them.

Now everything has a place and container.

And the white paint just makes it look clean and pulled together!

This entire closet makeover was less than $20!! Amazing! And just because everyone loves a good before and after shot...

Have you used the Dollar Tree for organization? Be sure to check out my top Dollar Tree finds here!

DIY Velcro Chore Charts

Monday, April 13, 2015

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PalmoliveMultiSurface #CollectiveBias 

 Now that warmer days are upon us, the itch to do some spring cleaning is real.  I am always looking for ways to get my girls involved in cleaning. I know we've slacked off on having some regular chores so I decided to revamp our cleaning job system and came up with a super easy DIY chore chart! I hung the charts to create a little chore command center for the girls.

 These charts are really so simple to make and I love them because it's easy for even a toddler to remove the chore tags and move them over to the "done" column.

I also discovered a great new product from Palmolive that makes cleaning so easy for kids because it's one product that cleans multiple surfaces. But first, here's how I made the chore charts!

Image Map

Four Ingredient Ice Cream Pie

Friday, April 10, 2015

We celebrated sweet Pearl Violet's 2nd birthday this week. This girl LOVES ice cream. She gets so angry when she has to share ice cream with mommy or one of her sisters. It's pretty funny. So, I knew that I wanted to make something with ice cream for her cake. I've been making different versions of this ice cream pie for years and tweaked it this time for a super yummy birthday treat. It's the world's easiest recipe!

When Pearl spotted her pie, she immediately started saying "ice cream! ice cream!" and there was no stopping her until we sang "Happy Birthday" and gave her a piece.

And she loved it of course! I can't believe she is 2 and I no longer have a baby in the house.

Here's how I made the world's easiest ice cream pie:

All you need is some: Cool Whip, ice cream, oreos and butter. If you want to make it even easier, buy a ready made oreo crust. I decided to get fancy and make my own. Also, you can choose any flavor of ice cream. I have made this with vanilla, mint chocolate chip coffee, peanut butter etc. But I chose strawberry this time around and it was so yummy.

 Let the ice cream sit out for about 15 minutes. Then, use a mixer to beat it so that it is smooth and creamy.

For the crust, crush about 11 oreos. Then mix the crushed oreos with 4 Tablespoons of melted butter. Press this into the bottom of a pie plate. Line the sides of the pie plate with whole oreos.

Pour the ice cream on top of the crust followed with a layer of cool whip. Freeze for about 6 hours and serve! I recommend letting the pie sit out for about 15 minutes before cutting into it.

It never fails to be a crowd pleaser!

Frugal Grocery Budget Tips Without Using Coupons

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I've gone back and forth so many times about doing a post on budgeting.  I love reading what other people are doing to stay on a budget, how much they spend on groceries, where they shop and how they save money. But I don't know if other people or people who read this blog care about that type of thing. I also hate to come across with a "braggy" tone or what I'm doing is the right way or the only way.

But, I've decided to put all my fears to rest and just go for it. My only goal is to help some other people out there who might struggle to keep to a frugal grocery budget. It's something that I've learned a ton about in the past few years and I've come up with a simple system that works for me.  Sometime I also feel like I'm the only one out there who struggles with these things or finds it difficult sometimes to stick to a budget, so hopefully this post will help any someone out there to know you aren't alone!

Here is my system. Take from it what you want and discard the rest. This is what works for our family.

1. Set a budget and track every penny. I've mentioned this in the past, but we use the Goodbudget app for all of our expenses. We have different categories or "envelopes" and every penny we spend comes out of an envelope. Our phones sync with each other, so I can just enter in the amount right at the store and it will show up in Reid's app as well. It's amazing and seriously life changing! Our budget for food for our family of 5 is $400 a month. (Our grocery envelope is set to $500 but that includes a lot of other household items besides food) I tell you this amount just to show you that it can be done without coupons as long as you are organized (and have a little self control!) And some of you may spend WAY less than that and for that I applaud you and just want to say you are amazing and if you have a blog, tell me what it is now so that I can learn from you!

2. Come up with a monthly menu plan.  I used to weekly menu plan, but in December I decided to try coming up with monthly menu plans instead. I am an impulse shopper at the grocery store and tend to just start throwing things into my cart. I figured if I could cut down the amount of times I go to the store each month, then I would cut down on my impulse buys.  If you aren't at the store, you aren't spending money. Simple.

At the beginning of the month, I come up with about 20 meal ideas and I write them all down. I keep these sheets so that I can go back and look at what we ate the previous months. It helps keep some variety and also it jogs my memory as to what was really good that we might want to have again the next month.

3. Get Organized.  After I write out my meals, I create a document on the computer where I start listing out all of the ingredients that I need to buy. I just start with the first one and look at the recipe. (I keep a recipe binder as well as lots of my recipes on Pinterest). I look in our pantry and fridge to see what we already have for the recipe and then list out the ingredients that we don't. I make categories (Frozen, Dairy, Canned, Produce...etc). I just do this for each recipe until I have a giant list. Don't forget about stuff you need for lunches, breakfast and side dishes. We usually eat the same thing for lunch every day...it's pretty boring. But you could come up with lunch and breakfast menus too if you are awesome like that.

Since I'm buying groceries for the entire month, I only purchase the produce that I need for the first week or so. But I do go ahead and purchase all of the boxed and canned goods for every meal. Then, I head to the store in the middle of the month to stock up on the milk and produce that we need for the rest of the month.

I often find these adorable little sticky note flags in the dollar spot at Target. I write all my meals on them and stick them in my calendar. I love this because I can move them around. I'm always changing my mind and switching dinners, so I can just stick the note on a different day if I want to switch it out. It also looks super cute.

4. Shop at Aldi. I have said it 10 million times, but I love Aldi. It is the #1 reason why I am able to keep to our budget. It is also why I no longer use coupons. It is so amazing and inexpensive. I don't have one near me and it's usually not convenient, but it is my lifesaver. Also, since I'm only doing one big grocery trip a month I can buy 95% of what I need at Aldi and I don't have to run into other stores that are usually much more expensive. I also mentioned this in my Dollar Tree post, but I buy my whole wheat Nature's Own bread at Dollar Tree each month. I will get 4-5 loaves and freeze them.

5. Cut down on packaged food. This is definitely an area I need to work on. But, another reason why I can keep our grocery bill low is that I don't buy a lot of cereals, granola bars and other packaged snacks. I will get maybe 1-2 boxes of cereal a month (which don't last long at all), but my family usually eats oatmeal or smoothies for breakfast. This is just so much cheaper. I also try to make my own granola bars and snacks. I have become lazy at this lately, but it helps to save a lot of money!

6. Cut down on meat. My girls don't care for chicken and aren't always big fans of red meat either. So, I have started making a lot of vegetarian dishes. I have noticed how much money this has saved us. We eat a lot of beans and rice, lentils and more beans for dinner. It's simple, healthy and super cheap. I try to buy dry beans and make them in the crock pot. Then, I will use what we need for that day and freeze the rest.

7. Splurge a little.  Sometimes sticking to a strict budget gets really depressing. Especially if you feel like you are the only one eating beans and rice for dinner. So, my tip is to treat yo'self every once in awhile. (This is a small shout out to my BFF Amy because we always talk about how we treat ourselves to Starbucks when our hubbies are out of town.) I always pick up a fun treat at the grocery store. It is my little reward. This might be a silly thing to point out in my grocery tips, but it keeps me sane to know I have a fresh package of double stuf oreos waiting for me after I've worked so hard at my monthly grocery budget. And yes, I hide them from my children.

April Meal Plan

Are you just DYING to know what my menu plan for April is???? Well, here it is! I will try to find links to the recipes or at least ones that are similar!

1. Lentil Tacos
2. Chicken Pad Thai
3. Beans and Rice
4. Rainbow Salad
5. Cottage Cheese Pancakes
6. Honey Lime Enchiladas
7. Spicy Lentil Casserole
8. Grilled Chicken Kabobs
9. Steak Fajitas
10. Homemade Pizza
11. Spinach Lasagna Rollups
12. Mexican Casserole
13. Homemade Nachos
14. Beef and Broccoli
15. Cheese Baked Tortellini
16. Hamburgers
17. Chicken Salad Wraps
18. Shrimp Tacos
19. Black Bean Burgers

Please tell me if you want to see more posts like this. Would it be helpful if I posted my menu plans each month? I could even do a post on everything I bought at Aldi and how much I spent? Also, tell me any menu planning or grocery budget tips you have!!

Master Bathroom Remodel {Part Uno}

Monday, March 23, 2015

Reid and I embarked on quite the undertaking over spring break. And by "we",  I really mean Reid.  So, our master bathroom which is a super teeny tiny room just big enough for a shower and toilet (the sink is just outside the bathroom door), was really nasty. The tile in the bottom of the shower was moldy and mildewy. No matter what I did to clean it, it never looked any better. We knew it had to be redone.

We had Bath Fitter come out a few weeks ago to give us an estimate. We were totally drawn in by their commercials which make it seem like it's so cheap and fast. We were shocked by their estimate of $5000 for the absolute cheapest options of just new shower walls and a base! That didn't include anything else in the bathroom!! So, that was a big no. We decided to just do it ourselves. It would be way cheaper and look way better.

The first step was gutting the entire bathroom. This actually went pretty fast. The subfloor is still intact in this photo:

Reid ended up taking it out and had a slight mishap which resulted in his foot going through the garage ceiling. Oops. Thank Jesus the bathroom is over the garage.

We decided on white subway tile with gray grout. It took DAYS of working all day and much of the night to get to this point:

Not much good comes from tiling at 2 AM multiple nights in a row. But, we are saving SO much money. We will show Bath Fitter how it's done!

After a few more days, the shower finally started to look like a shower...

And we now have grout, a tiled floor and a toilet! You will have to head over to my Instagram to see a sneak peek of how it's looking now.  My goal is to have everything finished by Friday to show you all a final reveal of how it all came together!

Top 10 Things to Buy At Dollar Tree

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

After sharing my Dollar Tree wreath, I decided that I needed to devote a full post to Dollar Tree. I know I've talked about them before and I've even done a few sponsored posts for them, but this isn't sponsored. It's 100% my opinion. Over the past year I have fallen in love with this store. I feel like it has been the perfect store to accompany my Aldi and thrift store obsessions to create the ultimate frugal trifecta. I have learned what my favorites and not so favorite things are and it would be selfish to hold it in any longer, so here you go!

1. Seasonal Items

Dollar Tree is now my go to place for seasonal items. I found princess Valentines for my girls' school parties this year.  They also have tons of cute St. Patricks Day and Easter stuff right now.  They even have stuff like socks and scarves in holiday prints.

2.  Gift Wrap and Party Supplies

I will never buy gift wrap, cups, plates, forks, plastic tablecloths, napkins or even cards anywhere else now. You can't beat $1 and they have a great selection.

3. Office Supplies

There is a huge selection of pens, pencils, tape, staples and anything you could want. We always get our security envelopes there, you can get a pack of 40 and my girls love to play with them.

4. Cleaning Products
I've had pretty good success with Dollar Tree's cleaning supplies. We love their carpet stain cleaner and I just recently purchased dusting spray. They don't have a very big selection of all natural products, but for heavy duty jobs when you can't get away with homemade or all natural, hit up Dollar Tree!

5. Nature's Own Bread
This is super random, but probably one of my favorite Dollar Tree finds is Nature's Own bread. We buy the 100% whole wheat variety (it has no high fructose corn syrup). It easily sells for $3 at the grocery store! I usually stock up and store them in the freezer. It's one of the best deals out there!

5. Craft Supplies
You would be surprised at how many craft supplies Dollar Tree now carries. From marbles and stones to moss and floral wire..and every time I'm there they have something new. I always check there first when I'm planning out a craft project.  And there are TONS of faux flowers to choose from. Most of them are pretty cheapy looking, but there are some cute options.

6. Coloring Books

I have bought coloring books for my kids from Dollar Tree for years. They have all of the Disney characters as well as ones that are more educational.  They also have little workbooks and flashcards. I will never buy a coloring book for more than $1 again!

7. Kitchen Tools
This is another one that I have either just overlooked or they have just been getting more in their stores, but I have had a lot of success with finding high quality kitchen tools at Dollar Tree. I have purchased mixing bowls, spatulas and measuring cups and they have all held up great. I'm not sure how awesome their knives or cookie trays are, but the smaller tools seem to be a great deal.

8. Kids Socks
Now, I will be the first to admit that the socks aren't the best quality. But when my kids lose their socks constantly, I can justify buying them a new pair when they are only $1. Actually they come in 2 packs and the colors and patterns are pretty cute. I have tried the adult socks and I wasn't a fan.

9. Magic Erasers
I felt like these needed their own category. The Dollar Tree magic erasers are amazing. I use them for everything and they are such a good deal. I have tried the name brand kind for $3 each and these are just as good.

10. Organizers
I saved the best for last. Nothing beats Dollar Tree's organizing section. Now, they do sell out of stuff really fast so sometimes it seems picked over but if you are there on a lucky day, you will find baskets, bins, crates and anything you can think of in super cute colors. They hold up great and a lot of the smaller items come in 2 or 4 packs. I love their shallow baskets for drawer organizers and the larger bins and baskets for closets. I'm hoping to reorganize my kitchen cabinets and plan to hit up Dollar Tree for all of my organizing needs!

Ok, so what do I NOT buy from Dollar Tree?
 1. Makeup. I have tried on a few occassions to get some of their name brand nail polishes or other things (they carry Sally Hansen, Milani and Mabelline to name a few) and the quality just wasn't there. I don't know if these companies are selling cheaper products at Dollar Tree or what, but don't waste your money.

2. Toys.  I have been trying to get away with having junky toys all over the house that just get thrown out in a few days. Dollar Tree toys are great for long car rides or party favors, but that is about it. You aren't going to find quality and long lasting toys here.

3. Crayons. I have tried out the crayons so many times and every time they are terrible. I always want it to be a great deal, but it's a waste of money. The markers aren't that bad but not great.

4. Food. Unless it's name brand like the Nature's Own bread, I wouldn't risk it with their food. I have purchased a few things and it just was not good quality.

I will probably be back in the future with more Dollar Tree favorites. Every time I'm there, I seem to find more amazing finds. One tip is if it's something seasonal, snatch it up before it goes away. Things seem to sell out fast and they don't always replenish their supply with more. Good luck!

Dollar Tree Spring Wreath

Monday, March 2, 2015

It does not feel like spring here. At all. I've decided that I'm just going to force spring on my home until it comes.  I was in the mood to make a fresh new wreath, so I just revamped an old one by using a few things that I found at the Dollar Tree.

I grabbed my moss spring wreath that I made a few years ago and found some more moss, fuzzy flower things (that's the technical term) and faux succulents at Dollar Tree. Yes, they have faux succulents there now!

And I just glued it all on. Some of these succulents were ones that I found on clearance from Michaels awhile back because Dollar Tree didn't have that many when I stopped in there.

I thought it turned out pretty well for just a few bucks! My daughter said it looks like a St. Patrick's day wreath which make's sense to me!

And you can't even tell from this photo that there is snow on the ground, it just looks like a spring doorstep. Lets hope in a few weeks that is the case!

I will be back later this week with some tips and favorites of mine from Dollar Tree. It is increasingly becoming one of my favorite stores. So, stay tuned for that!


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