Frugal Parenting Tips and Tricks

Here are some great ways I've learned to be a frugal parent over the years. Got more frugal parenting tips? Do share! :)

Back to School Deals

**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!**



back to school deals

It almost seems sacreligious to start even muttering “back to school” in July, but the truth is, most of the metro Atlanta will be back in session before we know it!  So, whilst I sip on my ice cold sweet tea, and wipe the sweat from my brow, batting down the heat and humidity, I share with y’all my Back to School deals – and make sure you take heed of these back to school shopping tips, too.  Super-special thanks to Melissa from This Mommy Saves Money for sharing this list!

Back to School Deals: week of July 23, 2017, good through July 29

Office Max/Office Depot

  • 15¢ Office Depot brand
  • 25¢ Office Depot brand beveled erasers, 3-pk limit 3
  • 25¢ Office Depot Brand Composition Books Limit 3 
  • 50¢ Office Depot Brand Ballpoint Pens (10-pack) Limit 3
  • 75¢ Scholastic Crayons (24-pack)
  • $1 Paper Mate Sharpwriter Mechanical Pencils 6-pk, limit 3
  • $1 Office Depot presharpened wood pencils, 12-pk, limit 3
  • $3 Office Depot Brand 1” Poly Binders
  • 50% Off of All Kenneth Cole, Solo and Ful School Backpacks Selection varies by location.

Also, if you have the Office Depot app, there are additional coupons good through 7/31/17.  When you open the app, click “deals” and then “coupon center” for 30% off qualifying back-to-school items of $30 or more.  Also, there’s a 25% off coupon for qualifying purchase of regularly priced or clearance furniture or seating.

Staples

  • 25¢ Staples, 1 Subject Notebook, Wide Ruled, 8″ x 10-1/2 Limit 30
  • 50¢ Staples Cap Erasers, Pink, Dozen: $0.50 Limit 5
  • 50¢ Staples #2 Wood Pencils, Yellow, 12/pk Limit 5
  • 50¢ Staples ruled 3″ x 5″ white index cards, 100/pack
  • 50¢ Staples Composition Notebook, College Ruled, Black, 9-3/4″ x 7-1/2″ Limit 30
  • 50¢ Staples College Ruled Filler Paper, 8″ x 10-1/2″, 120/Pack Limit 5
  • 50¢ Staples School Glue, 4 oz
  • 50¢ Staples Manual Dual-Hole Pencil Sharpener Limit 5
  • 97¢ Paper Mate Sharpwriter Mechanical Pencils, 5 pk
  • $1 Sharpie permanent markers, 5 pk Limit 5
  • $1.92 Staples 1″ standard-view binder
  • $1 Staples Washable Glue Sticks, .26oz, 4/pk
  • $2 Staples Poly Cover Wirebound Notebook, College Ruled
  • $9.99 Texas Instruments TI-30Xa Scientific Calculator

To ease your kiddo in to the new school year, make sure you also check out these great books, geared toward the first day of school.back to school books

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!**

Ways to Save for Back to School Shopping

**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!**



back to school shopping

Yes, back to school time is upon us already.  Most schools around the Atlanta area go back either the end of July or first of August, but back to school shopping begins much sooner.  I want to make sure y’all are prepared, and can find ways to stretch your dollars, as well as not scramble at the last minute for back to school shopping.

Ways to Save for Back to School Shopping: Start Early

I’ve noticed back to school starts immediately after the fireworks fizzle out on July 4th.  So start scoping out the sales now.  Most of the major chain stores will start discounting back to school items the week right after July 4th – this typically includes Target, Office Depot, Walmart, Staples, and more.  So check your weekly sales fliers either via the Sunday paper or online for the deals of the week.  Last year, you may recall, I saved HUGE shopping the Office Depot weekly deals, which had many penny, quarter, and dollar items.  There may be items for sale that you may not need right away, or you may need more of the sale items than the limited amount (I know Office Depot had a limit of 4 of each sale item, typically), but at these prices, go ahead and get the sale items.  Please note, these deals may involve you being part of  their store loyalty and rewards program.

Also, you may want to work as a team: find another parent friend to partner with for school shopping.  If there’s a sale on crayons, you can each go stock up on the maximum allowed amount, and if only one of you needs the crayons, then you’ve just doubled your supply for a fraction of the cost.  Then perhaps your friend may be in need of, say Expo markers, where you aren’t, you can again both get the maximum allowed amount, and your friend can walk away with double the supplies.  This can also work if you have a parent or sibling or neighbor friend close by who isn’t school shopping.  If they’re comfortable signing up for the store loyalty card, then you can team up and double what you need.  Maybe you can treat said family member or neighbor to lunch at Chick-fil-a in exchange for helping you!

Ways to Save for Back to School Shopping: Use Your Smartphone

In recent years, I’ve seen smartphone apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 jump on board with back to school savings.  Starting in July and typically through Labor Day, they’ll have rebates for a selection of school supply items.  When those rebates coincide with a store deal -which is not uncommon during the back to school shopping season- that’s when you can really save.  Ibotta even lets you scan the item’s barcode to see if it matches a current rebate, so you can easily check in store.  Also, make sure you are utilizing your Target Cartwheel app to stack on savings at this time, too.  There should be a “school supplies” section within the Cartwheel app.   Sometimes you’ll be able to utilize a store coupon, manufacture coupon, Target cartwheel, AND an Ibotta rebate all at once!

I also want you to utilize your smartphone to price compare.  Since most major retailers have an app, this should be easy.  How on earth does this work?  Here’s an example:

  • Say you’re in Walmart, and want to see if that deal on a 12 pk of Expo markers really is a great deal.  Open up your Target app and scan the markers barcode.  That should tell you a few things: 1) if Target sells that exact item, and 2) what their price is.  Keep in mine, the app may list their online price, and not their in-store price.
  • You can check this with any number of stores: Target, Walmart, Costco, Sam’s, Office Depot, and Staples.  Keep in mind, there will be items that one store carries, that’s packaged just a little different for another store, which may make it slightly difficult to find by scanning the bar code.  This is when you simply use your search feature.  So, in this case, you’d search for “Expo 12 count” and see what results you get.  Also, since Sam’s and Costco are more bulk sales, you’ll may need to determine the unit price to price compare.
  • I also want you to check against Amazon prices, too.  You’ll do this the same way, scan the item with your Amazon app, and see what sort of prices you get. If you have Amazon Prime, this is a great way to do your back to school shopping. If not, then try Amazon Prime with a FREE 30-Day Trial.  And here’s a bonus offer if you’ve got a kid going off to college: join Prime Student FREE Two-Day shipping for college students to maximize your savings further.

Ways to Save for Back to School Shopping: Shop for the Long Run

When my daughter started kindergarten, we went to Toys R Us and took advantage of the “free lunch box when you buy a backpack” deal.  She picked out an Ariel backpack and an Ariel lunch box, and we ended up spending roughly $20-25 on these items.  Within a few months of being in kindergarten, she declared that Ariel and all Disney princesses were “baby-ish”, but she still begrudgingly carried her backpack and lunch box to school for the remainder of the year.  The backpack got pretty beat up over the year, while the lunch box was in decent shape.

The summer between kindergarten and 1st grade, I found a $5 backpack at Goodwill (while we were up in Wisconsin, of all places) that was brand new – it was a basic pink with gray polka dots, and it came with a matching lunchbox.  That thing has held up beautifully for two school years, and she very well may enter 3rd grade with it, too.

We’ve found a basic Star Wars very gently-used backpack at a garage sale for my son, spending one whole dollar.  So he will start kindergarten with a character back pack as well.  However, I’m not confident that backpack will stand the test of time, particularly for a little boy.  So I plan to invest in good backpacks for each of them this year.  Brands that tend to hold up well include Pottery Barn kids, Lands End, and L.L. Bean – yes, these brands will be an investment, but they have a reputation for holding up well for years.  I recommend getting a simple-patterned one (no characters), and let your child accessorize with things that can be swapped out like key chains or patches.

My point here is to invest in pieces your child will use for a long time, like a back pack and lunch box.  They’ll need those every school year, so invest in one that will last multiple years.  Also consider a good quality thermos/water bottle, too.  This is one of my favorites.  Other long-term investment pieces include scissors, locker shelves, a good zippered binder once they hit middle school, good quality pencil pouch, and even good quality sports bags and equipment.

Ways to Save for Back to School Shopping: My Final 2¢

When it comes to back to school shopping, my best advice is to KISS it!  Yes, Keep It Simple Student.  😉  Simply put, please please please don’t run all over town in an effort to save a few dollars.  If you can get the bulk of your school supplies and school clothes at one store, do it.  Even if they don’t have the lowest prices for all items on your list, save yourself the headache (and gas money) of lugging kids to another store just to save a few dollars on a few items.  Of course, if that other store is on your way, and you’re not making a special trip, then that’s fine.  But please don’t stress out over school supplies.

As a former public school teacher, I can tell you that yes, I had the bare minimum for supplies – I was begging for boxes of tissues so my 4th grade boys weren’t blowing their raw little noses on those scratchy brown paper towels.  I literally did a happy dance when one of the assistant principals handed me a box of 144 number 2 pencils.  Yes, your kids’ teacher is likely dipping in to their own pocket to pay for a chunk of what’s being used in their classroom.  So, when a parent comes in and offers me supplies, I’m not going to turn it down, nor am I going to turn it away because it’s not the proper count or the right brand.

Supply what you can for your child.  If you feel compelled and called to do so, donate more.  But, again, please don’t stress about that list of school supplies.  Sometimes buying those pre-packaged school supplies can be a good thing, even if it’s not the super-cheapest route.

COMING SOON: Ways to Save with Back to School CLOTHES Shopping

 

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!**

Car Games for Kids

**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!**



Morning car rides can be daunting if you’re not a morning person, and sometimes even if you ARE a morning person.  Although I believe it’s perfectly ok to let your kids be bored, I also believe it’s important to use moments together wisely.  So we tend to spend our morning car ride having conversations, and playing kids car games that help wake them up and keep them on their toes, AND it’s all done sans technology!  Here I delve beyond “Punch-Buggy Charlie” and the license plate game for some good no-tech car games for kids.

Car Games for Kids

20 Questions – We each take a turn coming up with a person, place, or thing.  Then the other participants take turns asking yes or no questions to figure out what it is.  If we figure it out before the 20th question, we win; if not, then the person answering the questions wins.  This is a good exercise in making deductions and also figuring out good “category” questions. [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!**

UpCycling Creativity that Lets Parents Sleep

**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!**



Chick-fil-a soup containersAs a member of the Chick-fil-a Moms Panel, I was challenged (again) recently to upcycle the chicken tortilla soup containers.  Since I recently upcycled the salad containers, I thought this would be a piece of cake.  Or waffle fry.  😉

The challenge came at a perfect time, as it helped solve a problem we were facing on weekend mornings.  You see, my husband and I like to sleep in a little on the weekends – and by “sleep in” I mean not get up at 6 am like the kids do!  At five and seven, the kids are more than old enough to entertain themselves safely in the toy room, but recently my daughter took on the responsibility of also wanting to feed herself and her brother during the weekend mornings.  Not a big deal, in theory, because she can prepare cereal and open bananas for herself and her brother.  Boom – breakfast.

However, the issue arised when she admitted to helping herself to seconds, then thirds, then fourths, fifths, sixths, and SEVENTHS of cereal one morning.  Bless her heart.  Granted, she showed me that her second through fifth bowls were less than a quarter full, but still that was entirely too much cereal.

SO, I utilized clean and empty soup containers from Chick-fil-a.  I simply poured an appropriate amount of cereal in each container, and put the lid on.  The cereal waited for them on their placemats in the morning, and I had a cup of milk in the fridge for them to pour on to their cereal in the morning.  The containers were big enough that I could tell my daughter she only ate what was in the bowl.  Along with a banana, this was PLENTY for a meal.

As a bonus, the containers also serve as a great on-the-go breakfast.  About once a week, we indulge in sleeping in a little later during the school week.  We wake up, brush teeth, get dressed, and head out the door.  The kids enjoy a Chick-fil-a soup container of their favorite cereal, along with another container filled with fruit, and they’ve got an easy, delicious and not-that-bad-for-you breakfast.

In summary, upcycling the Chick-fil-a soup containers has allowed my husband and I to sleep more.  As parents, that is amazing.  😉

But I’m not the only one who came up with an awesome way to upcycle Chick-fil-a soup containers.  Check out these other creative ideas:

Given all these creative options, how would YOU upcycle a Chick-fil-a soup container?

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!**

Frugal Teacher Gift Ideas

**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!**



Frugal Teacher Gift Ideas

As a teacher, I recieved gifts over the years -some obviously very thoughtful and others that left me scratching my head in wonder.  Regardless, the simple act of giving a gift meant the world to me, especially since I wasn’t always the “main” teacher.  (I taught special education, and even if I saw a child for most of the day, I wasn’t their “homeroom” teacher, and ….I digress…)  So, let me repeat, any gift you give a teacher will be much appreciated.  Period.  Truly, it IS the thought that counts.

If you’re looking for something simple, without breaking the bank, then take heed of these frugal teacher gift ideas.

Honestly, the gifts that meant the most to me were the personalized notes, you could have your child help create a picture for each teacher, and include a note of thanks -offering anything specific you can, even if it’s simply “you make my child smile”. Pull out the paint brush, water colors or tempera paint, and let your child express himself – regardless of his age.  Sometimes a picture of your child is helpful, too, because it will allow her teachers to continue to put a name to a face (because we’re all a little forgetful in our old age.)  I’ve helped my daughter create various cards over the years, using card stock, colorful tissue paper bits, and contact paper.  Or peruse Pinterest for a simple craft you think you and your child could create for all his teachers.

Frugal Teacher Gift ideas - Tissue Paper Window Cards

When I was in the classroom, the gift that (still) meant the most to me was from one of my 5th graders, whose learning disability made the simple task of writing very difficult.  That year, she hand wrote me a letter of thanks – specifying things I’d done for her/with her that year.  I know the time, effort, and thought that went in to that was great – and I thus still treasure it dearly.  She got me a few other small things along with that note, but the note is what I most recall.

If you want to include a little **something** along with the pictures and notes, the gesture of a $5 gift card, or even a little baggie of assorted chocolates can go a long way.  The dollar stores usually have those little mesh baggies in multiples; I snagged a bag of chocolates last year for free with some deal -likely at Publix- and allocated a few of them to each of my daughter’s teacher, using those baggies.  Also, you could create various baked goods with your child, and include with a personalized note.

Along those same lines, clip and root a piece of your favorite house plant, like a Christmas cactus; root it, then put it in a colorful pot.  Or, grab a ready-to-paint pot from a craft store or home improvement store, and  let your child create a design on the pot.  House plants can certainly be a lasting way of saying “thank you”.

Frugal Teacher Gift Ideas - Paintable Flower Pots

Another idea, depending on your child’s class and teachers, is to pool together with other parents, and go in together for one big class gift.  With a larger budget, the class could get the teachers personalized stationary from Vistaprint, or even a larger gift card or gift certificate to her favorite restaurant.  Or just cold hard cash.

This year, for the end of year gift, my daughter’s pre-K class is making a photo book for each teacher.  Since they’ve been taking pictures all year round, and uploading to Shutterfly, we have plenty of pictures of the kids and both teachers.  Each child will also create one picture for each teacher, and write a sentence or two about what they like the most about each teachers – scan them in: boom.  Sentimental, meaningful gift.

The bottom line is this: no matter what the gift is, simply let your child’s teachers know you appreciate them.  That act alone goes a long way, and stands out for years to come.

**Also, check out Tiffany (of RealMomTalk.com) for her take on the Top 5 Gift Ideas for Teachers:

Top 5 gift ideas for teachers

© Pilarin | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Don’t forget to “pin” this post about Frugal Teacher Gift Ideas, so you can find it (and share it!) later!Frugal Teacher Gift Ideas

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!**

Toy List for Kids – Newborn to 24 Months

**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!**



toy list for kids - newborn to 24 monthsAmazon has a nice list of top toys for kids this year based on age. The following toys are on the Amazon Holiday Toy List for Kids – Newborn to 24 Months. Prices shown were accurate at the time of posting. Be sure to check the price before you order.

Special thanks to Become a Coupon Queen for sharing this list!

Under $10

Munchkin Twisty Figure 8 Teether – $4.49

Munchkin Ocean Squirts Bath Toys, 4 Pack – $6.98

$11 – $20

Bright Starts Safari Beats Musical Toy $12.39

Munchkin Float and Play Bubbles Bath Toy, 4 Count $12.67

Tomy Hide N Squeak Eggs Learning Toy – $12.97

Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether Activity Toy – $12.99

Nuby 10-Pack Little Squirts Fun Bath Toys, Assorted Characters – $12.99

Baby Einstein Discover and Play Piano – $14.39

LeapFrog Count & Crawl Number Kitty Musical Toy $14.96

Skip Hop Bandana Buddies Activity Toy, Puppy – $14.99

Skip Hop Explore and More Accordion Toy, Hedgehog $14.99

Gund Pusheen Plush with Cookie – $17.79

Fisher-Price Moonlight Meadow 5-toy Activity Set – $19.99

VTech Zoo Jamz Piano – $19.99

$21 – $30

LeapFrog Scout’s Count & Colors Band $20.48

Gund Tucker Giraffe Comfy Cozy Baby Blanket – $22.56

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Greetings Globe – $22.97

Bright Starts Baby Light and Colors Driver – $23.97

Fisher-Price Beat Bow Wow – Pink $24.45

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Grow ‘n Learn Garden Caddy – $24.99

Gund Baby Sleepy Seas Lights and Soothing Sounds Whale Toy – $25.67

VTech Count and Colors Bouncing Frog Toy – $26.39

Fisher-Price Little People Noah’s Ark $29.99

Fisher-Price Bright Beats Build-a-Beat Dance Mat – $29.99

Fisher-Price Little People Sit ‘n Stand Skyway – $30.39

$31 – $40

VTech Sit, Stand and Ride Baby Walker – $31.99

Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother – $34.75

Playskool Explore N’ Grow Busy Ball Popper – $33.43

Oball Go Grippers Car Carrier – $33.92

Fisher-Price Dance & Move BeatBelle – $34.00

Little Tikes Light ‘n Go – 3-in-1 Activity Walker – $34.99

VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Launch and Go Ride On $35.99

Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Sit, Stride & Ride Lion – $37.95

Kaloo Perle Plush Toys, Cream Chubby Bear $37.97

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Crawl-Around Learning Center $39.99

Over $41

VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Treasure Mountain Train Adventure – $54.73

Step2 Hot Wheels Push Around Racer Ride On – $49.99

Oball Go Grippers Bounce ‘N Zoom Speedway – $52.69

Olive Kids On the Go 4 pc Bed in a Bag – Toddler $52.98

Playskool Sesame Street Love2Learn Elmo – $49.99

VTech Go! Go! Smart Friends Enchanted Princess Palace $44.44

Little Tikes Princess Cozy Truck Ride-On – $71.99

Manhattan Toy Tree Top Adventure Activity Center $72.79

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Home Play Set $89.99

Power Wheels Nickelodeon Blaze And The Monster Machines Lil’ Quad – $94.97

Radio Flyer Big Red Classic ATW – $129

You may also like:

Frugal Baby Gift Ideas

10 Essential Newborn Items

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!**

Kid-Friendly Southwest Dip

**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!**



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

My kids love to eat.  Anything in “dip form” will get demolished in a matter of mere seconds with this crew.   Moreover, I love to find ways to create things with them.  ….and if I happen to sneak in some extra little nutritional boosts, well, then that’s even better.kid-friendly southwest dip

So this week, we headed over to Kroger, and created a fun, delicious southwest dip.  We even got creative and made it into a cat-faced southwest dip.  ….unfortunately, I first created another installment of “How Not to Cook”.  (Remember my infamous meatball debacle?  Or the overly-cinnamon’ed Vitamix applesauce?)

When I was asked to create a kid-friendly activity using things I got at Kroger, it seemed like a no-brainer.  I decided to go with a southwest-style dip and home made baked tortilla chips, which is an easy recipe for the kids to get involved with, AND which I could get everything I need at my neighborhood Kroger store.  Y’all already know I love Kroger, not only because they have competitive prices, but because Kroger helps me to find healthy options for me and my family.

kid-friendly-southwest-dip_baked-tortilla_banner

Making our own tortilla chips was a snap. It was basically what we did when we made tortilla strips for our chicken tortilla soups. Using Halloween-themed cookie cutters just added to the fun, too!

But first I had to “pull a Barbara”, and take too many liberties in what I created.  I found a handful of taco dip recipes, calling for cream cheese and refried beans, along with salsa, and other garnishing.  But I decided I wanted to make a healthier version, and replaced the refried beans with black beans and added corn, as well.  It didn’t turn out too well, but it made for a great conversation about how we dust ourself off and try again when things don’t go as planned.  This was actually perfect timing, since I’m trying to work with my 4 yo son on tackling the monkey bars at school.  He’s been reluctant to try them because he’s afraid of falling.  I’ve been encouraging him to try them, and that the worst that would happen is he drops to the ground and gets up and tries it again.  (His feet dangle about a foot from the ground on the monkey bars at his school, fwiw.)  So when my initial crack at this recipe was less than stellar, I made a big stink about getting right back in there and trying the recipe again, figuring out what I did wrong, and how I could make it better the next time.

I digress.

kid-friendly-southwest-dip_makingseasoning

We made our own taco seasoning for this recipe, thanks to a super-simple recipe I first heard about from Krystyn of Really Are You Serious. It was an easy and delightful task for my son!

Here’s what how we did it.  There are plenty of opportunities along the way to get the kids involved with each step, depending on their age, your comfort level, and their abilities – and perhaps your threshold for messes.

Kid-friendly Southwest Dip

  • 8-oz sour cream
  • 1 tbs. chia seeds
  • 1 tbs. flax seed
  • 2 tsp. taco seasoning mix (Did you know how easy it is to make your own??)
  • 1/2 c. salsa
  • 1/4 c. sliced ripe olives (+4-5 individual olives on reserve)
  • 1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
  • 1/2 c. black beans
  • 1/2 c. sweet corn
  • 1 c. chopped lettuce or spinach (or let the kids use scissors to snip it in to strips)
  • 2 cherry tomatoes
  • tortilla chips  (It’s super easy to bake your own tortilla chips!)

Mix the sour cream and taco seasoning until well-blended.  Spread as bottom layer of dip in your deep dish.  Next evenly spread salsa over cream cheese mix, then sprinkle chia and flax seed over the salsa.   Layer the beans, then the corn.  Top with shredded cheese.  ….now for the fun part.  Have kids create a face: use the tomatoes (cut in half) to create eyes, then place olive slice over tomato.  Cut olive slices in half to create a mouth.

kid-friendly-southwest-dip_pin

Pin me!

I ended up sticking ours in the oven with the baked tortilla chips for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese.  This is completely optional.

Giveaway opportunity:
I want to give one of y’all a chance to create something with your own kiddos, so I’m offering you a chance to win a $50 Kroger giftcard.  Simply comment below with your favorite Halloween activity or recipe to do with your kids.  Then fill out the form below.  See?  Simple!

Remember, you can earn extra entries daily, so make sure to stop back in and update your form to increase your chance of winning.  Good luck, y’all!  🙂


Kroger $50 Giftcard

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!**

Chick-fil-A Upcycling Fun!

**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!**



Chick-fil-a Upcycling #chickfilamomsDIY

As a member of the Chick-fil-A moms’ panel, I was inspired to accept the challenge they recently presented to us: creative ways to upcycle their salad containers.  Yes, these babies here:

Chick-fil-a Upcycling #chickfilamomsDIY

I decided to enlist my kiddos, with the idea I could utilize this idea in my preschool classroom.  Since I’m teaching summer camp, the perfect opportunity presented itself for one week of camp.  Every year during the last week of June, we have a small (but fun) “parade” for the 4th of July.  What perfect way to get preschoolers involved than with making their own shakers!

Chick-fil-a Upcycling FunSo, hopefully, the ones I constructed with the kids will serve as inspiration for my summer camp kiddos, and perhaps some of y’all, as you gear up to watch local July 4th parades in your area, or throw your own with your neighborhood kids.

 

As you’ll see, I’m a big believer in emphasizing the process rather than the product, particularly in this case.  I had my kids use various fillers for their shakers: rice, popcorn kernels, and two different sizes of pasta.  I also have a tube of various sensory goods (rice, beans,noodles, etc) mixed together, and we filled one container with the mixed goods.

 

Prepping for a post #OnTheBlog about upcycling our @chickfila salad containers. #chickfilamoms #chickfilamomsDIY

A photo posted by Barbara Burns (@atlantasfrugalmom) on

The teacher in me couldn’t resist the natural science lesson here: we hypothesized over how the different fillers would sound in the containers.  After testing them out, we discovered the smaller fillers (rice) made the “smaller” sound, while the bigger filler (large pasta) made the “larger” sound.

We also learned mommy needs to buy new paint.  Apparently really old paint won’t stick to plastic.  Ok, so that’s another hypothesis, but the finished product spoke for itself.  All in all, this was a great craft, and we will add it to our arsenal of kid-friendly crafts with recyclables.

Chick-fil-a upcycling

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!**

7+ Great Toddler Action Books

**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!**



Toddler Action Books

In my continued effort to share good books to promote literacy, I have a list of cute little toddler action books that my kids have enjoyed over the years.  By “action book”, I mean books that have flaps to lift, doors to open, pop-ups, etc – anything tactile to get a toddler engaged in the story at -ahem- hand.  Do you have any favorite action books you’d add to this?

Toddler Action Books

  1. Hop, Dance, Jump: Action Words and Fabulous Flaps by Maureen Roffey – This dandy little book is one of my son’s current favorites.  It’s got flaps to lift up, and flaps to lift down, with action words and (near) opposites on every page.  Each page depicts a character doing one action, you lift or lower a flap, and she’s doing the opposite, or near opposite: laugh/cry, sit/stand, walk/run, etc.
  2. The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle – One of my all-time favorite children’s authors is at it again.  This adorable story, with repetitive phrases tells the tale of a very busy spider spinning his web.  On each page, your child can feel the spider web, and watch in wonder as the busy spider’s web grows.
  3. What Makes a Rainbow: A Magic Ribbon Book by Betty Ann Schwartz – Your toddler will enjoy watching the rainbow grow, as they turn the pages of this colorful book!
  4. Ten Chirpy Chicks and Ten Little Ladybugs by Debbie Tarbett – These delightful books, just two out of a whole collection, help a child count backwards from ten, and allow for counting, touching each chick or ladybug as you go, and watch each one disappear as you turn the page.
  5. Where is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz – Well, you’ve got to lift the flaps to help baby.  That belly button won’t find itself, in this delightful playful book.  You can also check out Karen Katz‘s other interactive books for tots.
  6. Spot the Dot by David A. Carter – The toddler book based on the popular app.  Yep, a book based on an app – but your kids will LOVE it, and stay engaged!
  7. The entire Bizzy Bear series by Nosy Crow – With chunky sliders to push and pull, this robust little board book is perfect for active toddlers. Rich in visual detail and with touches of humor, it is sure to become a classic in the family library.


 

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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!**

8 Tips to Naturally Treat Eczema (and Prevent it!)

**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!**



naturally treat eczema

When my son was about six months old, he developed a rashy-looking patch of skin on his belly.  When I took him in to the pediatrician, she misdiagnosed him with ring worm.  Ring.  Worm.  Shudder.  Long story short, we don’t go to that doctor anymore, and have since gotten the correct diagnosis: eczema.  My son develops small patches of dry skin, typically on the back of his knees, near his elbows, and other areas on his body.

Thankfully, his has been a mild case these last few years, but I think that’s greatly in part to taking preventative measures.  There’s a whole arsenal of ways to treat and prevent eczema, but some suggestions just seem a little …extreme.  For instance, our pediatrician once mentioned that its feasible to treat a flare up with a bleach bath.  She walked me through the specifics, and assured me of the science behind this idea (and also stated she didn’t think it was ever something she personally could do for her child), but ….the idea of giving my toddler son a bleach bath just didn’t sound appealing.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to treat and prevent eczema using natural methods.

8 Tips to Naturally Treat Eczema

While the exact cause of eczema in each person is a little different, studies show that stress, genetics, and even food allergens are the main culprits. Anything from gluten, eggs, soy, peanuts, to citrus and even cow’s milk can cause eczema to flare up if you’re even slightly allergic. Let’s get to the root of the issue instead of just relieving it temporarily.

1. Avoid using detergents or fabric softeners, unless they’re free of all dyes and fragrances. You can even make your own detergent, just to be safe. Use the rinse cycle twice to get rid of extra residue left behind from detergents.

2. Cook with coconut oil. Coconut milk contains lauric acid, which our bodies convert into monolaurin. Monolaurin is a compound that helps fight viruses, bacteria, and fungus. Coconut oil also moisturizes the skin, which can be helpful when dealing with eczema.

If you find that moisturizing doesn’t help, try this healthy skin sea spray.

3. Avoid fast food. Besides obvious reasons (like fast food just not being good for our bodies, and it being expensive), when you have eczema it’s important to maintain healthy immune and digestive systems. This means eating healthy foods, at least most of the time.

4. Get allergy tested. Many allergens in the air, such as dust and pollen, can increase eczema flare ups as well as asthma problems. Many folks that have eczema also have asthma.

5. Skip the topicals. While topical treatments provide immediate short-lasting relief, don’t use them in place of getting to the root of the issue. If you’re going to use something topically, try avocado or aloe vera. Mix into a paste and leave it on the skin for 10-15 minutes. Wash off with warm water.

With eczema, you should look from the inside out. Like I mentioned above, the immune system and the digestive system are both important players in this game. Keep an eye on what you’re eating (or what you’re feeding the kiddos), and even keep a food log to show the doctor. This can help tremendously, and it will also save a lot of time when it comes to figuring out the cause of your eczema.

6. Take a probiotic. Dairy-free is best, especially if you have any type of dairy allergy. Probiotics help build up healthy bacteria in your gut, which can help improve eczema symptoms.

7. Avoid caffeine. Drink water, green smoothies, and (fresh-squeezed) juices instead.

8. Bathe sparingly. I don’t mean that you should go around smelling awful, but taking a bath or shower every day isn’t usually necessary. Keep baths lukewarm and short, to prevent drying of the skin.

These tips are not for instant relief, they’re for long-lasting relief because you’ll get to the root of your eczema issues instead of just covering them up for a bit. Many factors contribute to eczema flare ups, so don’t give up if you can’t find the cause right away.

So, do you have any favorite tips to naturally treat eczema?  Please comment below with any additional tips, or suggestions you might have for naturally treatment or prevention of eczema.

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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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