Money Saving Travel Tips

I am such a penny pincher. In fact, I can squeeze two pennies together so tightly that they cry new pennies. I’m just kidding, I’m not that bad, but I am pretty bad. I’m always looking for ways to cut costs. When you’re on a tight budget, that’s just the way it is. I’ve learned some pretty creative ways to save money, even when on vacation. By saving money on some things, you can save the money for the fun and exciting things.

This is a sponsored post all opinions are my own.

Vacations are so much fun, but leave your wallet a little drained. Come visit to see some of this moms money saving travel tips.

My family is planning a trip this summer to go see a family member get married. The money saving planning has already begun. Let me share with you what I am working on.

The first thing you can save money on is how you’re getting there. If you have a large family, flying is not usually the most cost-effective option. Driving isn’t the fastest, or the most fun with little kids, but it’s a great way to cut the cost of transporting your family. Especially if you have a good economic car that gets great gas mileage.

Where you’re staying is probably the second biggest cost of a trip. If you’re heading somewhere near family, seeing if you can stay with them is a good option to help save money and reconnect with your family. If you are going with a group of people, look into renting a house or a place together to share the costs. Our family is renting a big house out for the whole 4 or 5 days we’re there. Each family is being assigned a room and given assignments. Which brings me to my next point, food.

Save money by getting a vacation rental for the whole family

Feeding a family is not ever cheap. Three meals a day plus snacks and drinks on a trip gets very costly very fast. Our family is sharing in the cost by getting a house with a fully functional kitchen. Last time we did this; each family was in charge of a meal. Buying in bulk for 1 meal was cheaper than buying food for every meal.

Make each meal a family style meal

Packing in your own food is a great way to cut costs too. Fancy restaurants and happy meals add up very fast. If you try to get a hotel room with a mini-fridge and a microwave, you can do wonders. I always pack things like sandwiches, for lunch. I also like to grab portable things like Easy Mac and Cheese, Cup-o-Noodles, or microwavable soups. Each is inexpensive, portable, doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can easily be made with a microwave and water.

What do you do to save money while you’re on the road, though? When making a pit stop, stop at a place where you can get everything you need in one place. One stop shopping is the best and a huge time saver on trips. It’s a waste of money to drive around a town stopping at several places to find everything your family needs.Pilot Flying J Travel Center

When you need gas, the kids are hungry, and everyone needs a potty break, stopping in at the nearest Flying J is an easy way to stock up and take care of all the family’s necessities.

Laundry

Has the family been driving too long and needs a break? Stop in and stretch your legs while letting the kids play some games for a while in the game room. Is snack food no longer working? You can stop in at a Flying J and feed the whole family a home cooked meal.

Shower

Did your baby have a diaper blow-out? Flying J has that covered too with their shower facilities. Are the kids tired of the movies you brought? Download new ones for the rest of the trip at a Digiboo kiosk.

Traveling makes kids sleepy give them a break to run

With many great amenities, from Wi-Fi, Showers, Gas, home cooked meals, laundry, games, movies or snacks, you can find whatever you need to make your family’s travel experience a good one.

Lounge

I can’t wait for our family vacation this summer. If you’re traveling this summer too, be sure to check out one of the 650 Flying J retail locations along the way.

How do you save money while on vacations?

6 Things Only Kids of a Large Family Experience

I grew up in a large family. I was 3rd of 6 kids, right in the middle of four brothers until my baby sister came along. I loved growing up in a big family. There was always someone to play with, or to pester, and always lots happening. If you grew up in a large family, too, you’ll be able to perfectly relate to these 6 things that only children that came from large families understand!

I received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own. 

6 Things Only Kids of a Large Family Experience

If you grew up in a large family, or if you are raising a big brood, you'll completely relate to these experiences that only kids in a large household experience! A funny look at parenting when you have a bunch of children to manage.

1. You were always called the wrong name.

My mom was absolutely notorious with this. I would get the entire list of all 5 other kids, and sometimes my dad’s name thrown in, before my mom would finally land on my name or resort to saying, “Whatever your name is!” I swore I would never do this, but with five boys of my own, I’m right where my mom was, now repeating history, calling out a chain of names until I get to the right one. Sorry kids!

2. Everyone crammed and squished into the car. 

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We had an 8-seater car growing up, which means we just barely fit. If friends or an extra family member wanted to come along, we’d usually cram them in. There was never elbow room, and constant bickering about who would get which spot. I was always in the middle, squished in the center. Of course, there was always shouts of “calling” spots and claiming “shotgun” before anyone else could.

3. You had to share a bedroom and everything else.

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Occasionally, the rotation to the elusive own bedroom would land on us, but most of the time there were two or three of us cramped into each room. It wasn’t all bad, when you got sent to your room in trouble, at least you had someone to play with. Everything else you owned was always community property, too. The clothes, toys, books – they all got passed around and shared between the ranks.

4. You had to wait your turn for an extra curricular activity. 

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Parents couldn’t afford the expense of everyone being in a sport or club at the same time – and even if they could there wasn’t enough time. You had to wait for your turn to come around, or join the same sport your sibling picked.

5. Everyone shovels in every meal as fast as possible.

I’m a crazy fast eater. It is just a part of me from my upbringing. In a large family, if you don’t eat quickly, you’ll never get leftovers. Plus, everyone had to help chip into the meal prep. We had an assignment for our grilled cheese and tomato soup routine we’d have every Sunday. Someone would butter, slice, flip, mix and heat the soup, grab the plates and soup cups.

6. Your family is loud and crazy; you wouldn’t have it any other way. 

crazy boys

There’s no doubt a large family has a lot of noise and always so much going on and happening all around you. Despite all that, and the other antics of a large family, you love everything about the craziness of your family and are happy to be apart of it. You know someone will always have your back. Plus, every day you can play with a different sibling so you always have a friend to play with and grow up with.

Growing Up McGhee

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The McGhee family gets the chaos, and fun, of a large family. They tried for 10 years to have children before their sextuplets arrived! They share their journey with the chaos and demands of a large family in the series “Growing Up McGhee.”

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Photo Credit: Janine and Brian Killian/Peters Photography

The family went viral with this gorgeous print with a litter of newborns surrounding dad that was taken 5 years ago. Now, the family is past diaper changes and bottle feedings, but they’re facing a whole new series of challenges with 6 completely unique personalities and differences in each of their children as they try to manage a large family, a family business, and try to find alone time as well as plan a family spring break trip! Whether you grew up in a big or small family, you’ll love watching the McGhee’s as they tackle and overcome the challenges and joys of a large family.

Here’s their fun trailer introduction to the series:

Growing Up McGhee airs a new episode each Wednesdays 9pm EST on UPtv. Check in each week with parents Ro and Mia McGhee and their crew of sextuplets.

What was your favorite part of being in a large family?

25 Ways to Use Baby Wipes #simpletruthbaby

The baby wipe. I wish someone would have told me years ago what a beautiful tool a baby wipe is. That it has a million other uses besides wiping bums. I wish I would have known how handy they can be in a pinch. I should have started buying them in bulk long before I had my babies!

I received compensation and samples for this post. All ideas and opinions are my own. 

wipes

Since having kids I have come to realize just how versatile these little wet cloths can be. I am loving the Fragrance Free Baby Wipes from Simple Truth. You can find them at your local Kroger grocery store. They are made from extra thick and ultra soft plant-based materials to reduce your impact on the planet, and maximize your impact on baby’s messes. Plus, Fragrance Free Baby Wipes from Simple Truth contain vitamin E, aloe, cucumber, marshmallow plant and oat to protect your baby’s sensitive skin while keeping them clean, it is the same reason I am okay with using them on my face!

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I love to give a big ol’ stack of packages of them for gifts at baby showers. I always attach a note of all the handy places I keep them. Having baby wipes stashed all over is one of my favorite tips for new moms. Here are a few paces I keep them that you might not have tried:

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  • My purse (the one that is not a diaper bag)
  • The kitchen
  • My gym bag
  • The trunk of my car
  • Under the seat of my car
  • The garage
  • The porch
  • The laundry room
  • In the art supply bin
  • My makeup bag

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25 Everyday Uses for Baby Wipes

  1. Remove make up
  2. Clean up spills
  3. Wiping down sneakers
  4. Cleaning crayon off walls
  5. Wiping down cupboards
  6. Wiping down the bathroom after I get ready
  7. Wiping down highchairs at restaurants
  8. Wiping off the grocery cart handles
  9. Messy faces
  10. Nose wipes
  11. For everything when camping
  12. A quick wipe down after the gym
  13. Chalk Board and White Board cleaner
  14. Wiping down car seats
  15. Cleaning your sun glasses
  16. If a pack dries out, I use them as paper towels for cleaning
  17. Yoga mat cleaner
  18. Spot cleaning the floor
  19. Cleaning the track on the sliding glass door
  20. To wipe nail polish off skin
  21. Grabbing small spiders and bugs
  22. Dusting
  23. Cleaning the car
  24. Cleaning baseboards
  25. Wiping down blinds

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Did I give you some new ideas? What is your favorite way to use baby wipes?

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

Chef Date Night from Home + Steakhouse Salmon Recipe

Are you a fan of any of those popular cooking competition shows? Do you love MasterChef, Iron Chef, Chopped, or any of the other series? Well, you can create a spin off of your favorite cooking shows you love and have an intimidate date night for 2 or invite over your favorite couple and have a fun group date night all from home. Here are some tips to get you started.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

Chef Night Date from Home

Invites – A great way to get your date off to a good start is to pick a day for your date night at least a week in advance. You’ll want to make sure you add the date to your calendar so nothing else gets in the way. Since you’re planning a date night from home, you’ll be able to skip paying a babysitter, saving you money and time! Woohoo!

dinner date invite

Set the Stage – To take your at home date from dull to dazzling, put a little bit of time into the details. That might mean taking a few minutes to pick up the kids toys, load the dishwasher, and wipe down the counter. If you have time, set out a tablecloth and place settings and light a candle or two to really set a romantic tone to the evening.

Eliminate Distractions – Tuck away your cell phones, keep the TV off, and use this time to communicate and enjoy each other’s company. This is the best part of having a date from home, there are no crowds bustling around you, the two of you can really just focus on each other!

Chef-Worthy Meal – With planning a chef date from home, your meal is going to matter. Don’t go with those tried and true family favorites that (let’s admit it) are really boring. Kick up the menu a notch and try something completely new and different.

chef-date-night

We turned to Blue Apron to help make a romantic date night a cinch. The meals average $10 a plate, and included everything you will need to make a fancy dinner from home. The meals we tried came off feeling like we were making a fancy restaurant meal, that would have cost us much more than $10 each (plus tax, tip, babysitter…). Best of all, we had a much more intimate evening as we weren’t surrounded by other dining strangers and didn’t get interrupted every few minutes from a waiter. Instead, we were hands on cooking and working in the kitchen together to create a delicious meal we could then share.

Here’s the recipe from Blue Apron we tried during our date night.

Steakhouse Salmon Recipe

Chef inspired Steakhouse salmon recipe is going to take up your cooking to the next notch! We used this recipe for a fun cooking date night at home for just the two of us. Sharing tips on how to recreate the dish and your own at home date night with your sweetheart or add another couple for a group date!

Recipe by: Blue Apron

Makes: 2 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 2 skin-on salmon fillets
  • 6-oz green beans
  • 4-oz cremini mushrooms
  • 1 lemon
  • 3/4 lb yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard

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Directions:

1. Prepare the Ingredients:

  • Wash and dry all the fresh produce.
  • Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high.
  • Medium dice the potatoes.
  • Pick the thyme leaves off the stems; discard the stems and roughly chop the leaves.
  • Snap off and discard the stem ends of the green beans.
  • Thinly slice the mushrooms.
  • Quarter and de-seed the lemon, then juice.
  • Peel and mince the shallot to get 2 tablespoons; place in a bowl with the juice of all 4 lemon wedges.

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2. Brown the potatoes:

  • In a medium nonstick pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot.
  • Add the potatoes; season with salt and pepper and all but a pinch of the thyme.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned and slightly softened.

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3. Blanch the green beans:

  • While the potatoes cook, fill a medium bowl with ice water and set aside.
  • Add the green beans to the pot of boiling water and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until bright green and slightly softened.
  • Drain thoroughly and transfer to the bowl of ice water; set aside to stand until the cooked green beans are cool.
  • Drain thoroughly.

4. Add the mushrooms & green beans:

  • Add the mushrooms to the pan of potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, or until browned and slightly crispy.
  • Add the blanched green beans; season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through.
  • Transfer the cooked vegetables to a large bowl and set aside in a warm place.
  • Wipe out the pan.

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5. Cook the Salmon:

  • Pat the salmon fillets dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  • In the pan used to cook the vegetables, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot.
  • Add the seasoned fillets, skin sides down; cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked to your desired degree of doneness.
  • Remove from heat.

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 6 Dress the vegetables & plate your dish: 

  • While the salmon cooks, to make the vinaigrette, add the mustard to the shallot-lemon juice mixture; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined.
  • To the bowl of cooked vegetables, add enough of the vinaigrette to coat (you may have extra vinaigrette); toss to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Divide the dressed vegetables and cooked salmon fillets between 2 dishes.
  • Garnish with the remaining thyme. Enjoy!

Chef inspired Steakhouse salmon recipe is going to take up your cooking to the next notch! We used this recipe for a fun cooking date night at home for just the two of us. Sharing tips on how to recreate the dish and your own at home date night with your sweetheart or add another couple for a group date!

The recipe turned out great, and we both really enjoyed just having a low-key date night from home without the stress and running around that a date out on the town can have. It was different than our typical date nights, and we really had a lot of time to just talk and connect!

We were both super excited to give Blue Apron a try, and it did NOT disappoint! It was wonderful to have meal ideas ready which took out the frustration of “what’s for dinner” that week! All the ingredients were top quality and the directions were really easy to follow.

Try Blue Apron with 2 Free Meals!

Want to give Blue Apron a try? You can start off with 2 free meals! It’s the perfect time to give Blue Apron a try and schedule your own intimate chef inspired date night from home! You’ll need to visit Blue Apron using this targeted link to get the free meal offer!

How to Make Mason Jar Salads + 3 Easy Recipes

Salads are one of my all time favorite foods, especially in the summer.  I could eat a salad every single day! However, my family doesn’t share my affinity for all things salad, and they get super cranky when we have large meal salads multiple days in a row. Mason Jar salads are the perfect solution to my wanting to eat healthy and enjoy a great salad without prepping two different meals each night for dinner. It takes a little bit of prep work at the beginning of the week, but then you have a week’s worth of easy lunches or healthy dinners all ready to go!

So easy! I love Salads in a mason jar as they are quick and perfect for on the go – and they help me eat healthier all summer! 3 yummy salad recipes included making lunch a snap!

The key to keeping the salads fresh for up to 5 days in the refrigerator is all in the layering. You’ll first need a mason jar  I like the quart size mason jars because I like large salads. I also found the wide-mouthed jars are the easiest to fill and later to dump on your plate when you are ready to eat. You can get a whole set of 12 for around $20 on Amazon, they are absolutely worth the investment!

Layering: the simple layering rule is wet on the bottom, and dry on the top.

Layer 1: Dressing

Layer 2: vegetables that are fine getting wet.

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Some of my favorite bottom veggies are: baby carrots, celery chunks, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, apples, and bell peppers.

Layer 3: legumes, cooked pastas, fruits, canned veggies (corn, peas, etc.)

Layer 4: meats (chicken, eggs, bacon, etc.) and cheeses

Layer 5: leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.)

Layer 6: nuts, chips, croutons (all the dry ingredients)

Put a lid and ring on top, keep it upright, and keep it refrigerated until you are ready to eat it.  When it is time for your meal, just tip it upside down and dump all the ingredients into a large bowl or onto a plate. Mix it up and enjoy!

3 Delicious Mason Jar Salads

So easy! I love salads in a mason jar as they are quick and perfect on the go - and they help me eat healthier all summer! Three yummy salad recipes included making lunch a snap!

Parisian Salad

  • Girard’s White Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Lettuce Spring Mix
  • Feta Cheese
  • Craisins
  • Candied Walnuts

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So easy! I love salads in a mason jar as they are quick and perfect on the go - and they help me eat healthier all summer! Three yummy salad recipes included making lunch a snap!

Taco Salad

  • Salsa
  • Yellow bell peppers
  • Corn
  • Black beans (rinsed)
  • Sliced olives
  • Shredded cheese
  • Shredded chicken
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Chips (I actually prefer to keep my chips in a bag separate from the salad)

So easy! I love salads in a mason jar as they are quick and perfect on the go - and they help me eat healthier all summer! Three yummy salad recipes included making lunch a snap!

Classic Caesar Salad

  • Caesar Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Sliced Red Onions
  • Black Olives (halved)
  • Feta or Parmesan Cheese
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Croutons

I’ve found that if I’m prepping salads for the week, it helps to pick two types of jar salads for that week. There is enough variety that I am not eating the same salad every day, but the least amount of work.

Do you have a salad recipe you love that you could easily turn into Mason Jar Salads?

How to Plan the Perfect Birthday Party

I love finding any reason to celebrate and throw a party; especially when it comes to throwing a birthday party for one of my kids. There’s just something so fun and exciting about celebrating your child with family and friends. In my years of throwing parties, I’ve learned that the best kind of parties are the parties that everyone (including the host/hostess) can enjoy! So take the stress out of party throwing and prepare with these easy tips!

I received samples and compensation in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own. 

How to Plan the Perfect Birthday Party

birthday party

1. Start with a theme. It’s important to keep your child’s interests in mind when planning their party. After all, it’s THEIR party. Choose a theme that reflects your child’s likes and/or hobbies. If nothing else, make the theme of their party their favorite colors. Some of my favorite parties that I’ve thrown includes my daughter’s princess party, son’s Ninja Turtles party, and an animal themed party.

ninja turtle

2. Don’t skimp on the food. Everybody loves good party food. I always tend to invest most of my party planning time and budget into party food.  Let’s be honest, if you have delicious food, it’s hard to throw a bad party. Here are a few of my favorite party food spreads.

Animal Themed Appetizers:

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Ninja Turtles:

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Ice Cream Sundae Party:

ice cream sundae

Princess Party:

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3. Plan activities accordingly. Be sure not to over plan your party. Let guests interact and have fun. Be sure to keep the ages of your guests in mind. If you will have younger children, you may want to plan more activities than if you had a room full of teenagers. When we throw family parties (which includes a mixture of adults and kids), I typically plan for one game or activity and then let the rest of the time be spent eating food, visiting, and opening presents.

4. Don’t forget party favors. Every party guest loves taking home a little party favor. However, do note that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to create awesome party favors. One of my very favorite party favors I sent home with my guest included a mason jar full of animal crackers with a spray painted animal attached to the top (for an animal themed party). Total crowd pleaser and super cheap.

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5. Sit back, relax, and enjoy. Do all of your preparation before the party and then sit back and enjoy! Mingle with your guests, don’t worry about messes, and take the time to celebrate your child!

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You child’s birthday only comes around once a year so it’s important to make the most out of their special day. Toys “R” Us understands the importance of celebrating your child’s birthday and wants to help make them feel special on their birthday; that’s why they’ve recently updated Geoffrey’s Birthday Club. Geoffrey’s Birthday Club allows parents to sign up their children’s birthdays to receive special birthday-month offers.

birthday club

As part of the update to Geoffrey’s Birthday Club, Toys “R” Us has created a new children’s book titled “The Legend of Geoffrey” telling the story how Geoffrey arrived at Toys “R” Us and why he loves his birthday so much. Toys “R” Us has also launched monthly in-store birthday events nationwide allowing kids to celebrate the magic of the new book and birthdays.

geoffrey

Best of all, head to your local Toys “R” Us store Saturday June 18 and July 16 (3-4 pm) with your child celebrating a birthday on/around this date and your child can have story time with Geoffrey, receive a new “The Legend of Geoffrey” book, crown, balloon, and Geoffrey plush. What a fun and exciting way to show your child just how much they mean to you on their birthday.

While you’re in Toys “R” Us, don’t forget to browse their numerous birthday gifts, perfect for all kids!

 What party planning tips would you add?

DIY Water Balloon Flip Flops

Our entire family lives in flip flops all summer long. It’s the easiest thing to slip on and off at the pool, the park, the mall, the zoo, but we all get pretty sick of how boring the flip flops are. And as summer starts, days can seem long, and I hear lots of “I’m Bored!” We needed a fun activity to work on this summer, and wanted some new, fancier flip flops, so we decided to try and make water balloon flip flops to spruce them up a bit.

How to Make Water Balloon Flip Flops

diy water balloon flip flops

What you’ll need:

Once you have the colors you want, all it takes is a lot of knots! Each water balloon needs to be double-knotted so it won’t come undone as you wear your cute new summer water balloon flip flop sandals. I think this is great work for kid fingers. It might take a couple sessions of tying, but they’ll love watching the progress.

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After you tie a couple balloons make sure to squish them down to the end to give the flip flops the fluffy look. This is where you get into the 200+ water balloons. The flip flops tend to look pretty sparse if you don’t squish a lot of them on each side.

Love this summer project to make your own DIY decorated flip flops - all you'll need is a pack of water balloons! Mix and match patterns or make a rainbow pair. How to make these fun summer flip flops for kids (or adults) and just a few dollars!

You can mix it up with all the same colored water balloons or organize the colors to have a rainbow. You can purchase solid water balloon colors (ie. All purple) or get the variety pack and sort out the different colors. My kids liked the variety of colors all mashed together the best.

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After we got one side done, we all needed a break for our fingers before we started the other side. It wasn’t long before we had some super-cute new sandals for the summer! Straight through, it probably took us about two hours to complete one pair of flip flops (we did 4 30-minute sessions). Everyone loved their finished product and wore those new sandals with pride everywhere we went!

Love this summer project to make your own DIY decorated flip flops - all you'll need is a pack of water balloons! Mix and match patterns or make a rainbow pair. How to make these fun summer flip flops for kids (or adults) and just a few dollars!

My kids asked if we can do this to our flip flops every summer, and I’m all for it!! They take a little bit of time because of all of the knot tying but what’s more summery than water balloons and flip flops?

How else have you spruced up boring flip flops?

DIY Spider & Ant Repellent

I’m completely afraid of spiders. Both me and my husband are. It’s sort of funny whenever we spy one in our home because we both turn to absolute babies begging the other to take care of it for us. And there is nothing worse than finding a trail of ants marching into your home to retrieve those tiny crumbs that you can’t even see! It’s common to see them trailing around out on the front driveway, too. With this simple solution, you can help keep your home protected naturally with a non-toxic solution! This DIY spider and ant repellent uses just 3 simple ingredients!

Spider & Ant Repellent Spray

Spider & Ant Repellent

Ingredients:

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray where spiders, ants, earwigs and other bugs are a problem.

Spider & Ant Repellent

Reapply every 2-3 days or after heavy rains.

It’s really that simple! The peppermint essential oil has a natural ability to ward away annoying pests and insects. They are turned away from the smell, yet it’s a scent that won’t bother you one bit!

You can get a large 4 oz bottle of Peppermint essential oil from Amazon for around $12 and it will last you for a really long time for tons of different uses like soothing sore feet — just use a little bit of epsom salt and a few drops of peppermint oil in a foot bath. Peppermint has been known to boost mood, reduce fatigue, curb appetite, and even help with heartburn and nausea! If you’ve never tried essential oils before, peppermint is the perfect place to start!

What other tricks do you have for keeping ants and spiders away?

DIY Candy Bar Bouquet

It seems like there is always a need to send a small gift, a thank you to someone who went out of their way for you, a teacher, a co-worker, a friend having a hard day, etc., and this is the perfect gift to give! It is super easy to make, and always looks amazing, and really…who wouldn’t appreciate a candy bar bouquet? I sure wouldn’t turn one down!

Cutest Candy bar Bouquet! This is a fun and easy gift for friends, co-workers, or teachers. $5 for the entire project! Who wouldn’t love a bouquet of chocolate?

You can find everything you need at your local dollar store for about $5 (depending on how much of a variety in chocolate you want).

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Fun-Size Candy Bars (at least 12)
  • Glass Jar
  • Floral Foam
  • Tissue Paper
  • Wooden Skewers (usually found in the cooking utensil aisle)
  • Packing Tape
  • Ribbon/tag/stickers for embellishing the vase

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Here’s what you’ll do:

Cut off the corners or sides of the floral foam to make it fit within your vase.

Candybar Bouquet1

Wrap the floral foam in the tissue paper (you don’t have to stay with just white tissue paper, bright colors look amazing too!) and slide it down to the bottom of the vase. Make sure that all of the floral foam is completely covered – the green foam doesn’t look too pretty, but you’ll need it to stabilize your candy bars.

Candybar Bouquet3

Use the packing tape to secure the wooden skewers to the candy bars. Make sure you secure the flat end of the skewers to each candy bar so the pointed end will stick into the floral foam. You’ll want to have your packing tape go over the top of the skewer to add some stability and stop your candy bars from swiveling on the skewer.

Once you have your candy bars taped, you can place them into the foam just like arranging flowers. Tie a cute ribbon around the vase or add a fun tag expressing your thoughts/gratitude and you have a fantastic candy bar bouquet!

Cutest Candy bar Bouquet! This is a fun and easy gift for friends, co-workers, or teachers. $5 for the entire project! Who wouldn’t love a bouquet of chocolate?

My kids love to bring these candy bar bouquets to their teachers throughout the year, or bring them as a gift at a birthday party along with money or a gift card. My favorite has been to give them to a friend when they need a little cheering up. They are so easy to make, and pretty inexpensive.

15 Favorite Read Aloud Books for Families

I read an alarming fact the other day. It stated that by 4th grade, almost half of children no longer have an interest in reading books outside of the classroom. The statistics suggest that the one thing that changes by 4th grade is that parents are no longer reading aloud to their children. It’s really easy to see how that switch could take place. By 4th grade your children are likely confident independent readers, they no longer need your help. But that doesn’t mean we should stop reading aloud together as a family. It makes me smile whenever I catch moments like these, my boys cuddled up on the couch together reading aloud.

reading aloud

This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

I really appreciate what How to Raise a Reader teaches, “For a child, the more time spent with a parent reading aloud increases his or her level of attachment, enhances a sense of security, and imparts the knowledge that their parent feels they are worthwhile people with whom to spend time.” Reading together can be a powerful tool to keep your family close. We read together as a family as often as we can. Whether that’s snuggled up all squished onto my big king sized mattress, or reading to our kids at night as we tuck them into bed. We even pop-in audio books whenever we are on the go. It gets us laughing together and imagining together – my kids love retelling their favorite parts of the stories we read.

To inspire your family to get reading aloud, here are some of our top favorite read aloud titles we’ve shared as a family and loved! Some we’ve read by book, some we’ve listened to on the road, and many we’ve read several times over both in a book and by audiobook!

Reading aloud with your children can strengthen bonds, help you to reconnect or to talk about hard problems in life, and is a fun way to relax together. It's super important for their imagination, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills - too! We're sharing our very favorite read aloud books that are great to read together as a family.

15 Best Read Aloud Books for Families

  1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  2. My Father’s Dragon
  3. The Hobbit
  4. Chronicles of Narnia
  5. Magic Tree House
  6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  7. Mouse on a Motorcycle
  8. The Giver
  9. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  10. Charlotte’s Web
  11. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  12. Stuart Little
  13. Harry Potter
  14. Chronicles of Narnia
  15. Amelia Bedelia

Keep in mind, I’m raising a family of all boys. There are a few favorites I would absolutely add for those moms of girls – like Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, and Little House on the Prairie!

We are in the middle of reading a beautiful illustrated version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and then we’re planning to listen to it on audiobook. Both ways of listening to stories brings out different elements and my kids love listening to stories they’ve heard before because they can predict what’s coming next and it’s comforting to them.

usborne alice adventures in wonderland

We love the Audible app for listening to Audiobooks. It’s seamlessly connected within my Amazon account so adding a new audiobook is easy. We’ve listened to our stories aloud through our Amazon Echo that plays a story for us while we cook dinner together, work on a puzzle, or while we’re busy building forts in the family room. We can pickup right where we left off by connecting our smartphone to our car and playing the story through the Audible app. Perfect for our summer road trips!

My boys very favorite story to listen to over and over again is the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, especially Hard Luck and The Long Haul. They’re funny stories that all of my boys can relate to – even my husband and I end up cracking up during the story, especially with the background of our boys laughter. Even though they know what’s coming next, they’re excited to hear again their favorite parts. Audible has stories for everyone – young and old.

Free 30-day Audible Trial!

We tried Audible with a free trial almost a year ago, and loved the free books we picked with our trial. We just subscribed again at the start of summer to add new books to our library of titles for our summer adventures. Grab one of these classics, or your family’s own favorite read aloud, with a free 30-day trial! You’ll get to select an audiobook of your choice with thousands of titles to choose from!

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I believe everyone has a reader inside of them, it truly just takes that special book that pulls them into a world different then their own where they can become completely engrossed in a character, story, and setting. Audio books are a wonderful way to get reluctant readers pulled into a story, or even to just sneak in storytime as a family as you head to and from appointments and activities.

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