Our Favorite Homemade Cleaning Products

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We used to buy all the big brand cleaning products, they did a good job and made everything smell good. Then we had children and everything looked dangerous. One by one we trashed all our everyday products. It seemed like the kids were licking and putting everything in their mouths every second our backs were turned. So we looked up all natural do it yourself recipes and we are so much happier! We don’t have to worry about the kids licking, touching, or breathing in chemicals and we’ve saved so much money!

All Purpose Cleaner

In a spray bottle, fill half with Distilled White Vinegar and half Water. We also add about 20 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil but any scent is fine, and adding essential oil is optional. We use peppermint oil because other than liking the scent it is also supposed to be a pest deterant.

Glass Cleaner

If we can’t get a window or mirror clean with a microfiber cloth alone then we use this mixture. In a spray bottle, fill half with Rubbing Alcohol and half Water, then add 1 Tablespoon Distilled White Vinegar.

Drain Cleaner

This is best used for regular use in keeping drains clear and smell free and from getting clogged up, not for when the drain is already clogged. Use 1/4 Cup Baking Soda then slowly pour 1/4 Cup Distilled White Vinegar over the Baking Soda. Wait 1 Hour. Then pour Boiling Water (careful!) down the drain. We usually like to do this once a week just after washing and emptying the sink.

Air Freshener

In a spray bottle, use 1/2 Cup Distilled White Vinegar and 1/2 Cup Water. Then add 15 drops of your favorite scent of Essential Oil. We use different scents for different areas. Lavender in the bedrooms. Orange in the bathrooms.

 

Our Kids Top 10 Favorite Movies

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These movies and movie series are the ones that have been played over and over and over at our house. Some of them have been played so many times that we’ve had to buy them again after the dvds were damaged from being wrestled out of their cases so many times by little hands. So if you don’t yet own any of these movies then we highly recommend them!

Despicable Me

We have all of the Dispicable Me movies plus the mini-movies. The kids love the minions!

Toy Story

The kids love to act out different scenes themselves and with their toys. And they really enjoyed Mr. Potatohead after watching this movie.

Finding Nemo

This is a favorite bedtime movie. All of the under the sea colors and songs calm the kids down. Sometimes they even fall asleep watching it.

Turbo

The kids think talking snails are entertaining. And after watching this movie they usually like to play racing games with each other and with their toys.

Kung Fu Panda

These movies are high in action and energy. Great for right before going outside. Don’t be surprised if your children start doing kung fu moves, ours jump all over the bed while watching these movies.

Ice Age

Animals and dinosaurs! The favorite of this series of movies is Dawn of the Dinosaurs but the kids really enjoy and ask for all of them. They think a lot of the antics are funny.

Shrek

Our boy loves Shrek mainly for making all kinds of gross noises. And we hear a lot of yucks and laughter for these movies.

Meet The Robinsons

Another bedtime favorite movie. Really sparks the imagination.

Madagascar

All the animal toys always come out after these movies.

Rango

Animals in the old wild west. Our boy really enjoys acting out scenes from this movie and playing cowboy afterwards.

Saving Money on Birthday Parties

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Birthday Parties or any Parties in general can become very expensive, very fast! But planning ahead can save you a lot of time and money. When you are trying to save money but still want to have a nice party to remember you need to get creative! These ideas have worked for us.

1. Start a Birthday Storage Tote

This has helped us so much. Use a clear tote to store reusable items, games, favors, serving platters, decorations, etc. Right now we use a birthday tote and a party tote. In the future we’ll probably use two, one for the girls and one for the boys. Great place for birthday candles!

2. Similar Themes and/or Colors

Try to plan similar themes like Dinosaurs then Jungle Animals then Zoo Safari, anything where you can use items from a previous party. All three of those themes could use similar colors for servingware and decorations.

3. Buy Supplies on Sale

Always try to think ahead to future parties and look for sales and clearance items. Ever since we’ve started planning ahead, our parties have been stress free. We like to pick up a lot of items after holidays and during big sale times like Black Friday.

4. Party at Home

Our kids love Bounce Houses and going to those indoor play places to jump around. Those parties are expensive. The best investment we ever made was buying our own inflatable and having all the fun at home. This is the one we bought. It is fantastic with or without water and keeps the kids occupied for hours!

5. Make Your Own Cake Or Cupcakes

Or better yet, let your guests decorate their own cupcakes for an activity. I love to bake so making cakes and cupcakes is fun for me but if its not for you then try to ask a friend or family member. The last time we bought a birthday cake it was $20 for a small cake, I could have made a large cake for less than $10. Lesson learned.

6. Serve Pizza and Hot Dogs

Make another activity! Personal Pizzas! Let your guests add their own toppings. And kids love hot dogs. Don’t overthink party food. You don’t have to serve pizza and hot dogs, but the point is, Keep it Simple! And bonus creativity points if you serve food depending on what is on sale at your local grocery store.

7. Use Brown Paper for Covering Tables

We bought a big roll of thick brown paper for eating crabs four years ago, and we’re still using it. At the end of every party we just roll it up and throw it away. I sometimes dress up the tables with runners and mason jars full of anything but they really work well by themselves. And the kids can decorate and make a mess and no worries!

8. Make your own Favor Bags

Send them home with cookies or special homemade treats. We also keep an eye out for small toys and stickers on sale if they fit the theme. And if not, they can always be used around the holidays for stocking stuffers.

9. Make Your Own Decorations

Get your kids involved! Use what you have around the house and surf the internet. There are so many ideas online about DIY decorations. My favorite easy decoration to make is paper chain garlands. Have fun!

10. Don’t forget who the party is for!

Make a party you are proud of and that you can afford. Be proud of all your hard work. Let the kids have fun and don’t break the bank trying to entertain them. Kids have a tendency to make their own fun. Don’t try to impress other parents, its about the birthday boy or girl! Make sure they feel special on their special day!

 

 

Top Ten Money Saving Tips

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These are ways that we save money, and we save a lot of money and time wherever we can! Every bit counts and before you even think about saving anything, write down your money goals. This has helped us have the motivation to start and continue our money saving journey. Number 1 on our money saving goals is an emergency fund. Having an emergency fund is not only smart but a huge stress reliever! Save that money!

Tip #1 Turn off Lights

Turn off your lights during the day, turn off lights when you leave a room, let in the sunshine, go outside. At first it will take some getting used to, but not long, and when the electric bill starts going down, you’ll wonder why you ever needed so much artificial light. We actually found ourselves spending more time together as a family by hanging out more in the rooms with the most light, and spending more time outside. Our sleeping has improved and our stress levels have lowered.

Tip #2 Use Dryer at Night or Not at All

Saving time and money is very important to us, so we do use the dryer, but only at night. Electric rates are generally lower at night. When we only had one child in the house we used a clothesline. Now our family has expanded, mulitple children, plus my parents, busy busy! We also only wash full loads of laundry and we make sure to clean the dryer lint filter after every load.

Tip #3 Unplug Everything Extra

Keep those chargers unplugged, unplug less used appliances, anything not in use is still using electric, and draining your wallet. We also now only use one charger, when we were using multiple chargers sometimes we would forget to check if our tablet or phone was fully charged. It feels good to know you’re saving money with everything you unplug. Try to do an entire house check at the end of every month. A lot of times, something will be plugged in and used once then left plugged in.

Tip #4 Buy an Antenna

More and more free channels are becoming available, we paid so much money over the years for cable and satelite, now we’ve been using an antenna for over 4 years and we’ve saved so much money and every year we get more channels. Plus most of the channels we get are family friendly. Depending on your area, you may not even need an expensive high range antenna. The right one for us was around $100. Much better than the $80 we were paying per month. And most of the channels we were getting for $80 a month were never watched! An extra $80 a month made a big difference for us and it can for you too! Especially if you’re paying more than that!

Tip #5 Make Your Own Cleaning Products

We really wish we had started this years ago, we’ve been making our own cleaning products for over a year now and have saved so much money. Vinegar, Baking Soda, Lemon Juice, Essential Oils are the main ingredients we use but there are so many different recipes over the internet for different uses. We love that we’re not using harmful chemicals around the children or our pets and our cleaning supplies seem to do a better job than the store bought products we used to buy.

Tip #6 Check Your Thermostat

Wear less clothing in the summer and more clothing in the winter. Cut off unused rooms by closing the vents and doors. Adjust by 1 degree at a time to get used to warmer or cooler temperatures. Put in a window air conditioner or room heater if someone in your home likes/needs it warmer or cooler than others so your family isn’t fighting over the thermostat. Most of the time, when its hot and/or humid we only use one window air conditioner and let the ceiling fans circulate the cool air.

Tip #7 Change to LED Lightbulbs

These are great. We noticed a difference in our electric bill after changing. We switched ours out as the old ones went out but we wish we would’ve done it sooner. They seem to be getting better and less expensive all the time. And they’re not as hot as our old bulbs. They last such a long time that we haven’t had to replace one yet.

Tip #8 Drink More Water

Improving your health saves money going to the doctor. Bring water with you to avoid buying drinks on the go. Save money when going out by ordering water instead of overpriced drinks at restaurants. Staying hydrated is so good for your health! Don’t waste money on drinks that aren’t even good for you!

Tip #9 Plan Meals Ahead

Planning ahead saves time and money. Especially if you plan meals around sales and coupons. Make a list and try to plan a week of meals and buy everything in one trip. When you get good at it then you can expand to two weeks and so on. Make sure your pantry is stocked as well and if you’re lucky enough to have a freezer then you can really stock up on sale items! You don’t have to plan a month of unique meals! Cook your favorite meals once every week or two weeks. Makes planning meals so much easier if you use a calendar. Circle the days that you already have all the ingredients for those meals. Makes shopping easier!

Tip #10 Shop Online

Shopping online is a great time and money saver! Save money on gas, impulse buying, toys and food for the kids while out and the time spent. Make sure you take advantage of rewards and free shipping to maximize savings. Buying in bulk online is great as well. No loading and unloading your own vehicle!

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What do you do to save money?