Atlanta Baby and Child Expo 2016 {giveaway}

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Atlanta Baby and Child Expo 2015 logo

The Atlanta Baby and Child Expo is fast approaching! I had such a delightful time attending in years past, and am super-excited about it’s upcoming return.  Also, I’m happy to offer tickets to give away, too!  (see details below)

Atlanta Baby and Child Expo 2016:

The Atlanta Baby and Child Expo is considered THE premier event for expecting and new parents in the Southeast.  We bring in the ultimate in parenting and baby products and professionals.  It’s an elite experience, intimate in setting and not overwhelming.  It’s a party for expectants, new parents, grandparents and their family and friends. [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Turning Seven, Painting Pots, and Surprise Parties

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I am now the mother of a seven year old girl.  While she will forever be my littlest Peanut, she is certainly growing up.  Like many modern mamas, I posted on my personal FB page, gushing over how amazing she is, and how proud of her I am, and yet, how I wish to hold on to every last piece of her seemingly fleeting childhood.All Fired Up Party Review

But the truth is, I’m darn proud of the young lady she is becoming.  With each transition to the next stage, I mourn the small and little pieces of her that slip away, while also welcoming the new she brings to our world.  It’s bittersweet, at best, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, in all her squirrely-ness surrounding her birthday, she started telling us a few months beforehand that she’d “never” had a surprise party.  You know, in all of her (almost) seven years of living.

Around the same time, I got an invitation from the good folks at All Fired Up to try out one of their locations.  Opportunity knocks, y’all.  So, after asking my daughter in a very casual off-hand way if she would be interested in going to a place like this one day, she eagerly concurred.  …and the plan just fell in to place from there.

All Fired Up party review collage

I knew I didn’t want to do another indoor playground party, as we had done that every year since she turned 3.  My son’s fourth birthday, which is days before Christmas, was celebrated with friends with a very small (on-the-cheap) party (basically, a glorified playdate with three school friends), which was perfect for him.  So the opportunity to mix-it-up for her 7th birthday sounded refreshing.

Our experience with the Alpharetta location of All Fired Up, from start to finish, was absolutely fantastic!  Since it was a surprise party, we planned for my daughter and my husband to “run errands” in the morning, and then meet up at All Fired Up at 10 minutes after the hour.  So, my mother- and father-in-law came with me and my son about ten minutes early to get things set up, and welcome our party guests as they arrived.  Samantha kindly let us in early and helped brief us on the party, and helped us get set up.  The staff remained friendly, helpful, and patient throughout the entire party.

As the party guests began to arrive, they were greeted warmly and shown which pieces they could pick from for painting during the party.  They took the time to help them make their selections, and then wrote their names on the bottom of their pieces for them.  There was a wide variety of choices, which was great, since my 4 year old son wanted something “boy-ish” to paint (his words, not mine, I swear!).  Most of the other guests were girls ranging from age 6-8, as well as my 3 year old niece.

All Fired Up party review - Boy-ish pottery

Once the guest of honor arrived, and the stun of the surprise faded for her, she also picked out what she wanted to paint, and the party hosts got things under way.  The staff walked the girls over to the paints, showed them the large paint selection, and explained how to use the tiles available to put little dabs of paint on so they could paint their pieces.

All Fired Up party review - paint selection

While the guests worked on their pottery, the staff came around to have them sign a special “happy birthday” plate for my daughter.  We were able to take it home that day, and bake it in the oven.  She now has a great token to remember this occasion for years to come, and it’s a practical piece we can use each year on her birthday!

All Fired Up party review

As the girls completed their pottery, the staff happily took their pieces so they could be fired, and made a note on their sheet for our party list, so it would be easy to quickly match the piece with the child upon pickup.  When most of the party guests had completed their pieces, the tables were tidied up so we could sing and serve cake.

All-Fired-Up-party-review_cookie-cake

P.S.  If you’ve never experienced a double-layer cookie cake from Sam’s Club, your life is incomplete.  That’s all I’ll say on the matter.  😉

The entire party lasted about 90 minutes, but it was the perfect time for the kids to gather, celebrate, and have fun.  I’ve found in the past, there was an awkward time period during parties where folks linger and shuffle around, not really sure what to do.  This did not occur here.

All in all, I was super-pleased with the service we got from the staff at All Fired Up, and we will certainly return for another party, or simply another outing.  Everyone came away raving about the experience, and it was such a relief to have a relatively easy party for my daughter.

All Fired Up party review - pottery pieces

If you’re looking for a new place for birthday parties, casual get-togethers, and even summer camps, give All Fired Up a try – you won’t be disappointed.  They’ve got three locations in the Atlanta area, including Marietta and Emory, along with the Alpharetta location I attended.  You can even sign up your kids for art camp over spring break or during the summer.  Furthermore, they have creative art classes for both adults and for kids.

All-Fired-Up-review_artcamp

And, of course, I wouldn’t be Atlanta’s FRUGAL Mom if I didn’t tell you about their frequent painter program, which rewards you for -you guessed it!- frequent visits.  Ask your location for further details.  Oh!  And All Fired Up also offers fundraiser opportunities for local schools, churches, and organizations – what a great way to think outside the box for a good cause.

Thanks again to the wonderful people at All Fired Up for a fantastic birthday part for my daughter! Check them out on Facebook, Pinterest, and join their mailing list to stay abreast of upcoming events and specials!

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

5 Tips for Traveling Frugally

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tips for traveling frugallyTraveling can be expensive and all the little things add up quite quickly! It is hard to imagine saving money while traveling, but it can be done. Here are five tips to traveling frugally so that you can get out there and experience more of the world!

Plan Ahead

This sounds simple enough, but it is strangely one thing that is overlooked. When you are planning on flying, book your ticket three weeks ahead as prices go up on the 21-day mark. Conversely, 48 hours before a flight you can find some tremendous deals on last minute trips. A great resource is using Google Flights and then using this information to compare flights on Expedia or Travelocity.  If you’re traveling during the holidays, these are my tips for saving on holiday flights.

Tips on Fuel

Plan to fill up early in the morning and not when a tanker is filling the gas station’s underground tanks. Gas prices increase before any major holiday, so gas up as far in advance as you can, then just top off on the morning on your road trip. These simple steps will make sure that more gas ends up in your tank for less money.  Also, utilize your Kroger card to save big on gas, too.

Where to Stay

There are many choices of where to stay when traveling. If you are on a road trip, break out the tent and camp along your route. When flying, don’t forget to look up places on AirBNB or check out local B&Bs, especially if you don’t need all the amenities of a hotel. You can contact the Chamber of Commerce in the city you are visiting and often times they have discount codes for you to use at a local hotel.

tips for traveling frugally
Bed & Breakfast and Country Inns, 24th Edition

Excursions on the Cheap

When talking to the Chamber of Commerce, ask them if they have an activity book (often free) which has 2-for-1 coupons or discounts throughout an area. Many museums and attractions have a couple days a month where admission is reduced or free, plan if your trip is planned around those dates.  Also, utilize things sites/apps Groupon, Scoutmob, Goldstar, and Living Social for discounted deals on things to do locally.


groupon - tips for traveling frugallyGoldstar - tips for traveling frugally

Don’t Eat All Your Money

Food can add up quickly while traveling. Pack snacks like dried fruit, nuts, and protein bars in your bag. When you get to your destination, stop at the grocery store and pick up food that you can eat. Don’t eat out at breakfast, as you can start your day with a banana and protein shake. (Or if you’re lucky, find a hotel that throws in free breakfast.)  Dinner is usually twice the cost of lunch, so eat your largest meal midday and have the leftovers for dinner.

These are just a few of the ways you can travel frugally this year. Now get out there and travel!

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

2016 Atlanta Summer Camp Guide

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



Atlanta Summer Camp Guide

Yes, spring has yet to sprung, technically speaking – but we all know summer will be here before we know it.  And when the kids are out of school, you’ll want your share of activities and places for them to go.  So start gathering ideas now so you can make these important decisions before things get filled up.  Here’s my Atlanta Summer Camp guide, as well as camps for spring break around the metro area.  Don’t see one?  Let me know, and I’ll include it. 🙂 [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Day Out with Thomas is Coming!!

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Day Out with Thomas - banner

My little boy, who perpetually has trains on the brain, was delighted when we surprised him with a trip to Day Out with Thomas® back in May.  It was a day trip up to Chatanooga, complete with a chance for the whole family to actually ride Thomas.  We met Sir Topham Hatt, to boot!

Thomas the Tank Engine™ is celebrating friendship at Day Out With Thomas®: The Celebration Tour 2015, and families across North America are invited aboard! Little engineers everywhere are invited to join Thomas when the #1 Engine pulls into Cordelia, GA October 16-18 & October 24-25 for Day Out with Thomas: The Celebration Tour 2015.  (GA. Veterans State Park  2459 Hwy 280 West at Cannon Road, Cordele, Ga  31015) [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Free Things to Do in Atlanta

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Free Things to Do in Atlanta

Having fun in Atlanta doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg!  You already know about all the great free and frugal ways to beat the heat in Atlanta, as well as great indoor places for kids – but there’s so much more to this wonderful city.  So, without further adieu, I give you …wait for it…

Free Things to Do in Atlanta

One of my favorite spots, the Woodruff Park Reading Room is an amazing outdoor learning adventure. Located in the North side of the park, the Woodruff Park Reading Room is filled with carts of books! It’s the perfect spot for a picnic lunch while reading a book, and truly is the ideal activity for kids of all ages.

Another educational stop your trip should include is the Federal Reserve Bank. Quite possibly the only time you’ll ever see one million dollars all in the same place, this museum will teach the kids – and you! – about the Federal Reserve, how they control the money supply, and basically the overall importance of a federal reserve system.

On Tuesdays, you can tour the Governor’s Mansion, which is pretty cool if you ask me! Learn about the history of Atlanta while seeing how the governor lives.

Every Wednesday starting at 5:30PM, May through September, you’ll get to experience Wednesday Wind Down at Centennial Olympic Park. There’s always something happening at Centennial Park. Take a look at the calendar of events to help plan your trip. Don’t be surprised if it’s busy on a nice summer day, though – this park gets over 3 million visitors each year!

Take a free guided art tour through Castleberry Hill, and be impressed with the art studios and paintings – all without spending a dime. Castleberry Hill was one of Atlanta’s first neighborhoods to be reconstructed after the Civil War.

On Thursdays, you can take a trip to the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center for free admission to neat programs and lectures. This place is filled with gorgeous modern art, and would make the perfect addition to an educational field trip around the city.

Tour where Martin Luther King Jr. grew up, and learn about the Civil Rights movement, all for free at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.

One place that’s considered a “must visit” by locals is the Atlanta’s Children Museum! The entire family will have a blast at this interactive museum. Admission is free the second Tuesday of the month.

Did your favorites make the list?  Do you have any additional spots to add to the list of free things to do in Atlanta?  

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Summer FUN in Atlanta

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Summer Fun in Atlanta

Summer 2015 is (un)officially under way, now that the kiddos are out of school.  So here are some awesome ideas to add to your summer fun in Atlanta – to keep them entertained, and also to help keep them stimulated, and avoid parking their brains over the summer.  Not all of these are strictly limited to the Atlanta area, so make sure to check them all out and see what YOU can cross off your summer bucket list.  Click on the pictures for further details.

Summer Fun in Atlanta – Master List

Got something to add?  Please contact me and I’ll look in to it.Summer Fun in Atlanta

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Create Your Taste & Feel Fancy at McDonalds

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This post was created in partnership with McDonald’s.  For participating in this campaign, I received a form of compensation.  All thoughts, opinions, and bad puns are my own.

McDonalds-Create-Your-Taste_banner

So recently I went out and ordered an amazingly-delicious, customized burger, and had it served to me at my table, along with the rest of my meal.  I customized my burger with pepper jack cheese, grilled mushtrooms, caramelized grilled onions, chili lime tortilla strips, fresh sliced ripe tomato, crisp green leaf lettuce, and a creamy garlic sauce.  The entire dining experience was overall fantastic.  And guess what?  It was at McDonald’s.  Yep.  McDonald’s.

Actually, it was at the Chamblee-Tucker location, which is where MANY years ago, my friend and I went to every week after diving practice.  We would come in with wet hair and our sweat pants and sweat shirts so frequently, the lady behind the counter would see me and simply say “number three with Mr. Pibb!”

IMG_5640

Needless to say, this newly-renovated location was a far cry from the McDonald’s I frequented in my high school days.  You’ve probably seen a newly-renovated McDonald’s in your area, too, right?  I walked in to a sleek new design, and found the kiosks from which I could order my custom-made burger.

Create Your Taste McDonalds

The whole experience was pretty easy, and it was all laid out for me on the kiosk screen.  I was able to customize which burger I got (1/4 pounder, or a 1/3 pounder for an additional charge).  I had the option of adding bacon for an additional charge, and for some reason unbeknownst to me, I declined.  I’m going to blame it on the shiny new machine distracting me, mkay?

Actually, I chose the “specialty builds” route, with a burger already made up, because perhaps I was also feeling a bit lazy. The SoCAL Style burger comes with white cheddar (but I chose pepperjack), guac (which I omitted because I’m weird like that), chili lime tortilla strips, tomato, lettuce, garlic sauce – served on a toasted artisan roll.  I opted to add caramelized grilled onions and grilled mushrooms to the mix, since those are my go-to add-ons.

McDonald's Create Your Taste Kiosk

HolyMaryMotherOfBurgers, was that an ahh-mazing burger!  In all honesty, I wasn’t feeling so hot that day.  I’d come down a few days beforehand with strep throat (oh yay me!), and although the antibiotics had kicked in, but still wasn’t 100% and still felt like I had razor blades in my throat every time I swallowed.

McDonald's Create Your Taste burgers

I digress.  Did I mention the adorable baskets in which the fries were served?  Yeah, they were pretty darn cute.  And it’s McDonalds fries, so you know they were ridiculously delicious!

These burgers, and this entire concept, was well worth it!  There are currently six locations in the metro area offering the Create Your Taste experience:

    1. 965 Dawsonville Hwy, Gainesville, GA 
    2. 2501 Thompson Bridge Rd, Gainesville, GA 
    3. 1125 Merchants Dr, Dallas, GA
    4. 2049 N Cobb Parkway, Kennesaw, GA
    5. 1105 Northside Dr, Atlanta, GA
    6.  3396 Chamblee-Tucker Rd, Chamblee, GA
    7. 5350 McGinnis Ferry Rd, Alpharetta, GA
    8. 3183 Frontage Rd, Gainesville, GA
    9. 4111 Austell Rd, Austell, GA

Would you like to try out one of these new burgers? I’m giving away a $25 Arch gift card, so one lucky winner can try out a new Create Your Taste burger at McDonald’s. To enter, first comment below, telling me how you would create your own burger. Then, fill out the form below. Good luck, y’all!

McDonald's Create Your Taste giveaway

$25 McDonald’s Arch Gift Card

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Painting with a Twist

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



Painting-with-a-Twist_Buckhead-bannerThis is a sponsored post written on behalf of Painting with a Twist in Buckhead.  I’ve received a form of compensation in exchange for promotion; however, all opinions and bad puns are completely my own.

As a mother, I think it’s important to find ways to do “grown-up” things with other grown-ups, without a hint of kids around.  Ok, fine, sometimes I consider a trip to the grocery store good escape…  But now Buckhead has another great place for you to escape: Painting with a Twist.  Here, you can paint on a canvas, enjoy good music, wine or beer, and create unique, personal masterpieces they can take to their homes or gift to others. The artwork ranges from landscapes, abstracts and cityscapes, to creative renderings of animals, iconic buildings and florals. [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Surviving Snow Mountain, Southern Style

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



Surviving-Snow-Mountain_banner

So I completely get that there are quite a few “transplants” in the Atlanta area who have plenty of experience with snow.  Heaven help us, we all learned last year just how poorly Atlanta as a whole deals with snow, so how on earth can Atlantans enjoy the local phenomenon known as Snow Mountain?  It’s simple, we slap on our rain boots, and enjoy the cold snow, Southern Style.  😉

I was recently invited out to Stone Mountain’s Snow Mountain with my family to enjoy the tubes, the snow, and the atmosphere.  If you’ve never been, make sure you go NOW, as it’s only here through Sunday March 1!  Littles can enjoy The SnowZone (perhaps a child’s first expereince with -ahem- building a snow man), and enjoy the adventures of the Little Angels, complete with SnoBoggans – bigger kids will LOVE Avalanche Alley and Tube Runners. The whole family can indulge in snacks and treats at the SnoDeck, and then enjoy S’mores at Snow Fire Point while watching the sun go down.

Surviving Snow Mountain collage

Make sure to book your times in advance, as you get two hours to do the tubing.  Also, check for discount tickets if you’re a Gas South customer.  Check with ticket information for further details.

It was a wonderful experience, but honest-to-goodness, I just wasn’t sure how this Southern girl was going to get her two littles ready for the snow.  Thankfully, my mom got the kids snow suits for Christmas, so they had a basic outfit, at least.  I will share a few tips:

Surviving Snow Mountain: Southern Style

[Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

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