Show Us Your Life-Money Saving Tips

Kelly from Kelly's Korner is hosting "Show Us Your Life"-Money Saving Tips and I thought I would join in today. I love finding ways to save money. Around January I was introduced to Groupon. It has changed my shopping world. Check out Groupon and see for yourself. (If it doesn't come up as your city when you go to the website, click on "visit more cities" up at the top to see if yours is listed).

Here is how it works. You go to their website and sign up, for free, to receive their daily emails. Every day they send 1 deal of the day. You have until midnight to purchase the deal and then it goes away. It's that simple.

Here are the deals that I have purchased in the last few months.

1. 1 hour massage for $35 (Reg. $70)
2. 1 year pass to Adventure Science Center for entire family $45 (Reg. $90)
3. 1 room in your home painted $85 (Reg $250)
4. 5 Barre Sculpting Classes (This is like a ballet fitness class that I have heard kicks your rear) $22 for all 5 classes (normally $40 per class).

The savings are really incredible. They have something for everyone from restaurants and salons to entertainment and fitness and the list goes on and on. Check them out to see if they are in your city.

If you've used Groupon tell me about it. I'd love to hear what you bought. Happy shopping.

I'm a Minivan Mom

I never thought I would say those words. I remember years ago, even before I had kids, telling Brian that I would never own a minivan. I am now eating those words big time. Last night we said goodbye to our 2003 Toyota Sequoia. It has been a great SUV for us. We bought this car when I was pregnant with Zoe. We were so excited to have a baby and thought the next step was a family car. As our family has grown the Sequoia seemed like it was shrinking. I really wanted a car with more room and bucket seats for the girls.

I really fought the whole minivan thing. I loved driving an SUV and looked at crossover SUV's, but none of them seemed right for our family. Not to mention they are more expensive than a minivan.

I talked to mom's who had minivans and they all said they loved the sliding doors. That was one of the selling features for me. The ease and safety of getting the girls in and out of the car quickly. I researched 3 minivans; the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and the Chrysler Town & Country. After a lot of time spent on the computer comparing all three, I finally decided on..... drum roll please.......





A 2009 Chrysler Town & Country. I joke I had to have it in black to make it look cooler. Here's what I love about it. The T&C was awarded 5 stars on the Crash Test Ratings and is equipped with airbags around the entire vehicle. It also has a back up camera that appears on the front console so you can see what is behind you when you back up. You can't put a price on safety.

Here is what the girls love: The 2 DVD players, their bucket seats swivel to face backwards and it has a table that goes in the back between their seats and the third row.

There is so much more that I love, but will refrain from mentioning all the features. It may not be the most stylish car on the planet, but I just can't get past the comfort and roominess of the minivan. I've let go of my pride for the sake of my family. I will one day probably go back to the SUV, but it will have to wait until the kiddos are in college.

But for now I will roll the windows down, put my shades on, crank of the music and close my eyes and pretend I am 16 again driving my black rabbit convertible along Pacific Coast Hwy. Well, maybe I should keep my eyes open.

If you are a minivan mom I would love to hear what you like best about yours. Leave me a comment and let me know.

Muffins with Mommy

I joined the girls at school this morning for Muffins with Mommy. I look forward to this day all school year. It's always a surprise as to what they have made for me. I wasn't disappointed. I received the cutest bracelet and place mat from Brooklyn. Sydney made me a flower and two pieces of artwork with her hand prints and footprints. I will cherish them forever.

Sydney's card she made me reads, "If I could have just one wish, now wouldn't that be fine, I'd wish that every little kid, had a mom as good as mine. I love you mom!

We had some yummy muffins and apple juice. It is really fun to hang out with the girls in their classrooms and watch them interact with the other kids. It's also fun to sit and talk with the other moms for a change too. Sydney also learned how to sign, "I love my mommy". It was too cute.


I love the pictures of the girls in these photos. Me, not so much. I have bags for days. I had a really bad allergy attack the night before and rubbed my eyes til they were raw. No amount of ice packs the next morning was gonna get rid of them. Thankfully they are gone now.
I am one blessed mama! Thank you my sweet girls for a great morning. I love you both so much!

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my 38th birthday. There I said it. That number gets harder and harder to say every year. Why is that? I am thankful to be alive and blessed to be celebrating another birthday so that's how I choose to look at it.

It has been a good day. The best news of the day came this morning when I found out my sister-in-law Kelly, Brian's sister, went into labor with triplets. I am thrilled to share a birthday with my 2 new nephews and my niece and so amazed that she made it to 36 weeks. That was her goal and she did it. Way to go Kelly!

Doesn't she look great? She is all belly I have to say. She made carrying over 17 lbs of baby look easy. I can't imagine.

The babies were born at 12:04 p.m. & 12:05 p.m. today. Walker Nicholas weighed in at 5 lbs, 13 oz, Jane Violet weighed 5 lbs, 4oz and Quentin Sawyer was the biggest at 6 lbs, 1oz. Mommy and babies are doing great. As soon as I get some pictures I will post them. I can't wait to hold them next weekend and I can't wait for Brooklyn and Sydney to see them. We've been praying for these babies for 9 months.

I should tell you that Kelly also has twins who are 7, Spencer and Caroline. I know they will be such a big help to their parents. I am thrilled for you guys and love you all.

Tonight we went to Omikoshi's for my birthday dinner. If you aren't familiar with it, it's like Shoguns where they cook the food right in front of you. I didn't know how the girls would do at such a nice restaurant, but they did great. At first they were afraid of the fire, but then they got used to it. They were in ah over how the guy threw around his knives. Sydney said, "Mommy I can do that when I get bigger". If you practice hard you just might be able to baby girl, but for now I will keep the knives up high and out of reach.

It was such a fun night with my family and I continue to stand amazed at how He has blessed me. I have a wonderful husband and 2 beautiful girls that make me laugh and feel so loved every day.

No, I didn't forget about my Tuesday's Tip, so here it is. We used this tonight for my birthday dinner. It's a website called 10best.com and it's awesome. Brian bought a $25 gift certificate for Omikoshi's for $3 (it was originally $10 for a $25 dollar certificate, but if you enter a coupon code you get it for $3). Yep you read it right, just $3. Here is how it works. You find the restaurant you want to go to, pay $3 and then print the certificate and take it to the restaurant. It's that simple. Each restaurant is different, but for the one tonight we had to spend $35 to use it. So basically if you work the menu, you can get out of their for $13 plus tax and tip. We spent a little more at $20, but it was so worth it. All 4 of us had soup and salad, chicken and fried rice and veggies (Brian had top sirloin) and then ice cream for dessert. Now that's a deal. I also have heard that restaurants.com is great as well.

Check it out and see what deals you can find.

Happy 70th Birthday Dad!

Dear Dad,

So glad you made it to 70. It's hard to believe. You don't look a day over 69. :)

Thank you for being such an amazing dad. I am so incredibly blessed. You have worked so hard to provide for our family. Being a parent now myself I know how tiring it is and I can say that I don't know how you did it. How did you work 3 jobs and still be so involved in our lives. Thank you for working hard so that mom could stay home with us girls.

Thank you for always supporting us in anything we ever wanted to do. You coached our soccer teams, came to all of our choir shows and even drove our motor home so we could minister to others. We could not have gone on the road without you.

Most importantly, thank you for raising us to be women of God. Your love and example has helped me be the person I am today. Thank you for forcing family nights on us when we were a kid. I still remember all the times I would try to fall asleep during them and you would tell me to sit up and pay attention. I can think back now and remember those nights and I am so glad we had them. That is one family tradition I want to pass on to my family.

It's so fun for me to watch you with Brooklyn and Sydney. They love you so much. Thank you for taking such good care of them. Thank you for the countless prayers you have prayed on their behalf. Thank you for always being available to watch them at a moment's notice.

Thank you for the wise counsel you always give me whether I have asked for it or not. I will always be your little girl.

Happy Birthday Dad. I love you! Krissy

P.S. Ok so I realized I don't have any pictures with just you and Brooklyn. We will have to remedy that this weekend so I can add it.

Off to the Windy City

Brian and I area headed to Chicago in the morning. I cannot wait. We are going for our anniversary. My parents are so great to watch the girls for us so we can get away. Thank you Auntie RoRo for helping them too.

One of the things I am looking forward to is the shopping. Our first stop is to IKEA. It is one of my favorite stores ever. We are renting a car for the day just so I can do some shopping there. I am also bringing a big suitcase to check so I can bring all my goodies back. They will probably look at me funny at the airport tomorrow when I check this big empty bag. It will be worth it. I have my catalog in hand and I'm ready to go.

We're staying at a famous hotel and I am so excited. It's been in some movies and alot of famous people have stayed there. Can you guess which one it is? We got a killer deal on Priceline and the best thing is that it's in the heart of downtown. Close to all the great shops and restaurants.

I better get packing. Have a great weekend everyone. I know I plan too.

A walk downtown

Today my sister Stacy met us downtown with her two girls Maiya and Samantha. Brooklyn and Sydney had school and their school is right in the heart of downtown so we decided to meet up and take them to all get cupcakes. We each had a coupon for a free cupcake so it was a pretty inexpensive outing.

When I picked up Brooklyn from school today I told her that we were going to meet her cousins to get a cupcake. She said, "Mommy I already had a cupcake at school. I have had way too much sugar today". I started to laugh. I guess she has heard me tell her that too much sugar is not good for you. That it can make you sick. However, by the time we had walked to the cupcake shop she had changed her tune.

The girls loved their cupcakes. After they finished we let them walk around downtown and they got to go to the toy shop. They had so much fun looking at all the toys and dolls. Stacy and I had fun too. We found something that we use to play with when we were kids back in California. Oh the memories. We both loved the pop sound it made and the smell it produced after it was dropped to the ground. Can you guess what it is?










Did you have one? They are so fun. Of course we had to buy one and show the girls how it worked. The older girls could do it, but the younger ones, Sammie and Sydney had a hard time. You have to hold it just right and drop it straight to the ground for it to pop. I love being able to show the girls something that their mama used to play with.

It was a beautiful and warm 83 degrees in the south today. A little too warm for my taste for Spring, but it's better than being cold. The girls love hangin with their cousins and I am so blessed that they all have each other to play with.

Tuesday's Tip-www.picnik.com

If you've been reading my blog for awhile you might have noticed that my photos have changed. It's all because of this awesome website two of my dear friends told me about. Thank you Lisa Leonard and Chrisse Rousse. I am forever grateful. It's called Picnik and I LOVE it. I've always wanted to "trick out" my photos and make them look better and this site does that. The best thing about it, it's FREE! Yep, completely free. How cool is that?

I've been using it like crazy as you've probably noticed by now. I did upgrade to the premium for $2.08 a month, but to me it's worth it. Let me say you get tons of apps for free so you really don't have to upgrade to premium if you don't want to.

I will give you an example of the cool things you can do with this program.

Here is the original photo of Sydney that I took. I shot it with my Nikon D40.

And here is the edited version of the same photo:

I used 2 apps with this, Boost and Soften. I love how vibrant the colors are in the photo.

My new favorite app is called Gritty. I love it! Here is what it looks like.

Then of course you can add text, borders, make collages and the list goes on and on. Check it out. See what you can come up with and put a link to your blog in my comment section. I'd love to see your photos.

Switcheroo Sunday-Reusable Cloths

I am a girl that uses a lot of paper towels. I have 2 little girls so that means lots of messes. I don't think I truly understood what messy was until they came along. I used paper towels to clean off the counter tops, wipe up spills, use them as napkins, etc.. I would probably go through a roll every few days. That gets expensive, not to mention all the waste I was producing that would end up in a landfill.

I like to be green when I can, but I am not obsessed with it. I recycle plastics, paper, cans, and cardboard. I use organic cleaners in my home because I want to remove as many toxins that I can from our home for the health of my family. I'm so glad to see that more people are buying organic cleaning products for their homes instead of the ones we've used for years that contain harmful chemicals. (In a few weeks I am going to do a Switcheroo Sunday where I give you homemade recipes for cleaning products to use around your home.)

So recently I made the switch from paper towels to reusable cloths. Don't get me wrong, I couldn't get rid of my paper towel addiction cold turkey. I still keep paper towels at my house, but for everyday clean up I have switched to reusable cloths. I buy my cloths from Trader Joe's ($3 for a pack of 2), but you can probably find them anywhere these days. I use one for a day and then at night after I clean the kitchen I throw it in the wash. If I need to clean up after I handle raw meat or anything that may contain harmful bacteria, I use a paper towel and throw it in the trash. I don't want to take any chances.

Another way you can save on papertowels is to keep a washcloth in your kitchen for hands and faces after the kids get done eating. I haven't done this yet, but am planning on buying a small pack of washclothes just to keep in the kitchen.

Let me know if you have made the switch. I would love to know how it's working for you.

More with the Easter Bunny

I promise this is the last of the Easter photos. I forgot to post my pictures with the Easter bunny. Shame on me.

Sydney could not get enough of the Easter bunny. She went to him every second she could get.
They had a total of 3 egg hunts that they went to. One at school, one at a friend's house and the other at The Factory. I love their little faces in the first pictures. All smiles.

Happy Anniversary

9 years ago today, April 7, 2001, Brian and I said, "I Do". It was one of the happiest days of my life. There are some moments that it feels like yesterday that we got married and other times it feels like it's been 20 years. Not in a bad way, it just seems like we've been through so much in the last 9 years. Through the good and bad times we've been able to lean on one another and cling to the Lord. These last couple of months have been the "clinging" kind of moments. It's during these difficult times I am so glad the Lord brought Brian into my life.

Brian, there is no one else with whom I would want to walk through this crazy life. I am proud to be your wife, best friend and mother of your children. You make me want to be a better person. You inspire me to go for my dreams and never give up. You encourage me when you know I need it. You make me laugh in your own nerdy little way. You are incredibly smart, very handsome, a hardworker, an amazing dad and most importantly of all a spiritual leader for our family.

I love you with all of my heart. Krista

Tuesday's Tip-Making your own popsicles

I have a new favorite kitchen gadget. It's called the Vita-Mix and I'm in love. OK, that's going overboard I know, but if you could see this thing in action you would fall head over heels yourself. It's a blender, juicer and food processor all in one. The thing is powerful, going from 11mph to 240mph in seconds. I was able to get rid of my juicer and my blender to make room for this baby on my counter.

You can make smoothies, dips, salsa, hummus, soups, almond butter and the list goes on and on. I used to juice everyday and then it dawned on me that I was throwing away so much goodness down the drain after I juiced that I just couldn't do it anymore. It seemed like such a waste of nutrients and money. With the Vita-Mix I don't throw anything away because it grinds it all up so you keep all of the vitamins in the container. Plus it is so much easier to clean than a juicer. If you have a regular juicer you know what I mean. It can take you 10 minutes or more just for clean up and who really has time for that.

My only warning for the Vita-Mix is the cost. They are not cheap, but so worth the investment. The best deal I could find was at Costco. They only stock the machine when someone from the company is there to demonstrate it so call your store to see if they know when that will be. You can also try eBay or Craig's list to find a used one. The company has been around for 90 years and they warranty their blenders for 7 years. I have a friend who said she is using the one her mom gave her and it's over 25 years old and still going. Now that's a company I can back.

OK so you are probably thinking, what does this have to do with my Tuesday's tip? I will tell you. With the weather getting warmer it is popsicle time at my house. I wanted to find an alternative for the popsicles that you buy at the store. One for ingredient reasons and the other to save money. That's where my Vita-Mix comes in. I pour all of my ingredients in the machine and start it up. Then I put it in these neat little Popsicle containers I got at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $2.99 and stick them into the freezer. In about a few hours, I have wonderful healthy popsicles for the girls to eat. This is a treat I don't mind if they have everyday.

This is today's smoothie I made for myself. The girls loved it too. The leftovers will go in their popsicle containers. The Vita-Mix makes a ton so watch how much of the ingredients you are putting in your machine.

My girls would never eat kale, broccoli or flax seeds by themselves, but they will drink it. They have no idea how good this is for their little bodies. I also add liquid calcium to their drink since they do not get cow's milk. I want to make sure they have enough calcium in their diets. That is what's so great about juicing is that you can sneak vitamins into your kids smoothie and they will never know it.

You need to have a liquid for the base. You can use water, yogurt, almond milk, cow's milk, whatever you have in the fridge. I love Coconut Kefir (you can get it at Whole Foods) so that's what we use. This changes from day to day for me depending on what I have in the fridge. If I have some fruit that is going to go bad I throw it in the Vita-Mix. This is also the only blender that will blend a banana. Pretty cool.


I know this may not look like the most appetizing drink in the world but believe me it's delicious. My girls are incredibly picky eaters and they drank some before nap time. The key is to use a fruit that is sweet like peaches, pineapple, apples etc.. If you need an added sweetener I suggest using some raw honey or Stevia.

This is the end result. I like these popsicle holders because they have the built in straws so there is less mess.

It's 86 degrees here today so this is perfect for treat time this afternoon. I think I might have to eat one myself.

Do you have a Vita-Mix machine? If so tell me some of your favorite things to make. I would love to try some new recipes.

Disclaimer: This is my opinion. I do not get paid to endorse any products that I suggest. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on t.v. I am just a mom who enjoys researching the ingredients in the products my family uses and the foods that we eat. Thank you.


He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

What a great day we had today. The girls were ready to head downstairs as soon as they woke up. The Easter bunny always hides their baskets for them every year. They love to go on the hunt for them.


After they found their baskets and ate a few peeps, it was off to church. I think this is my favorite Sunday to go to church. It was such a great time of worship. I think I cried through every worship song we sung and our pastor, who is battling Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma, delivered a message on hope. So appropriate for what he is going through and for what Easter truly is all about, HOPE. Hope that as believers one day we will spend eternity with Him.


I didn't have anything planned for lunch so we drove around til we found a restaurant open. We decided on P.F. Chang's. One of my favorites. We had never taken the girls there before so I didn't know how they would like it. Turned out they loved it. The cost was great too. We all ate for $20 and the food was delicious as always.


I hope you and your family had a wonderful Easter filled with love and laughter.

Easter with an International Flavor

Tonight we celebrated Easter with my family. My sister Stacy came up with the idea to have an international dinner. I'm so glad she did. We each brought a dish from the country of our choice. It was some spread we had. The food was absolutely amazing and I wish I had some leftovers right now. We also decided to dress up. When I say we, I mean my sisters decided too. It wasn't that I was against it, it was just that it had been such a busy week that I just didn't have time to come up with something. Luckily she had dresses for the girls to wear. They were so cute.

After we stuffed ourselves full of yummy food it was time to dye the Easter eggs. This was the first year that we did this. I figured now that they were 3 and 4 1/2 they could handle it without it being a mess. They did a great job. The wire whisks helped. I found that tip online and it was awesome. No messy hands afterwards. I highly recommend it.

It was a full night of festivities. After we dyed eggs, we read the Easter story to the girls and then we took communion. I have to admit this was the first time that I have taken communion in shot glasses, but it was the only little cups that we had. My sister collects them from her travels so it went along with the theme.
It was such a wonderful time of reflection for me. A time to remember the blood that was shed for me and His body that was broken for me. He was sinless and He could have come down from the cross, but He chose to stay for you and for me. Thank you Lord that you are alive and living in me. I can't wait for church tomorrow morning. What a celebration it will be.

Show us your Life-Organizational Tips

Kelly from Kelly's Korner is hosting Show us your Life-organizational tips. I love being organized. I'm a little obsessed really. Have been since I was a kid and I have my mother to blame. She labeled everything and everything had its place. I even started a business called Clutter to Calm so I could help others create a sense of peace and calm in their homes.

If you are new to my blog, welcome. Most of my Tuesday's Tips have to do with organization. Here an example of a Tuesday's Tip I did last fall. Enjoy!


Today's tip is keeping a well organized pantry. I have found that if you do so you will save time and money. One of my favorite things to help me keep organized is my P-Touch label maker. This is about the only thing Martha Stewart and I have in common. If you don't have one, you need to invest in one. They are not very expensive at all and they will help you in your pursuit to be organized. The other thing that I love is see through containers. I am not a fan of cardboard boxes. You can ask my hubby. We've moved twice and the first thing I do is unpack everything so I don't have boxes all over the house. They are usually unpacked within a few days. I love clear plastic containers, especially in a pantry, because you can see what is in them and you can tell when things are running low. Cereal for example, is great in containers. Otherwise if you have them in the boxes you have to open the box to see how much is left, or just wait for your child or hubby to say, "Mom we need more cereal".
Now let me say I am blessed to have a big walk in pantry. I know not everyone has a big pantry. I think it's all the more vital to be organized with a smaller pantry. We had a very small pantry at our old house and hardly any cabinet space. I had to make good use of every square inch. So it can be done with a small pantry.

I also keep my chips, crackers and breads in different small bins. That way all the like items stay together and I can see what I am running low on and what I actually have. Otherwise they would be all over the bottom shelf and I'd have to sort through to find what I am looking for. We have all of our recycling at the bottom. As you can see I need to make a run to the recycling center.
The other thing I do in my pantry is make zones. It's hard to tell from the picture, but I have little laminated white cards on the shelves. They read, candy & nuts, baking, canned goods, oil & spices, pasta, etc. You can really make yours whatever you'd like. This also helps the hubby know where to put stuff when unloading the grocery bags. :)

I have some storage on the other side as well. A place for grocery bags, which I recycle and reuse, plastic wrap and aluminum foil and my aprons. Use every inch of your space. Go high and use the back of the door if you have to. There are so many cool organizing tools out there for you to get started. It doesn't have to cost a fortune either. If you are fortunate to live near an IKEA, they have very inexpensive containers. Also check the Dollar Tree or Walmart. It might cost you a little money up front, but it will save you money in the long haul.

I hope this has been helpful. If you live near me and would like some help and suggestions I would love to help you. In case you are wondering, I have always loved to clean and organize. My first guinea pig was my best friend Christa who lived down the street. I was in 6th grade at the time and I basically kicked her out of her room to make it over. I spent all morning cleaning and organizing her room and when she came back she loved the results. Thus my love for organization was birthed way back then.

 

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