Gardening Ideas for When you are Stuck at Home

The older I get, the more I like to get my hands dirty in the garden. I really don't know what I'm doing, but thankfully, I am not afraid to get out there and try. I think that's what holds a lot of us back. But now, with plenty of time on our hands, and nowhere to go, why not try gardening this spring? You've probably already got a yard full of plants, and if you are like me, you might even have a stash of seeds somewhere too. I've got some gardening ideas for you for when you are stuck at home.
spring planting tips

Backpacks for Foster Care: Crafting for a Cause with Cricut

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cricut. All opinions are 100% mine.

As a parent, I've always followed the motto that more is caught than taught. I want my kids to see me living a generous life and giving to others. I want them to understand that there are human faces and stories behind every set of numbers and statistics. Did you know that there are more than 440,000 children in Foster Care nationwide?  When most children enter into the Foster Care system it's through an emergency situation. Children are experiencing uncertainty and upheaval in their lives and most of them don't have an opportunity to grab those items that are familiar and comfortable for them. Many kids entering the system are given black trash bags to carry whatever few belongings they do have. 

I've partnered with Cricut to help personalize backpacks for children entering Foster Care. I'll be donating them to The Blue Ribbon Project and showing you how you can join in too!

unicorn backpack, space backpack

10 Staycation Ideas When you Are Stuck at Home

Our family loves to travel. It's important for us to explore the world and share that gift with our kids. Not sure any of us saw this coming, and now instead of our normally scheduled spring break plans, we are in stay at home mode, some of us, state-ordered with fines in place if we don't. It doesn't mean you can't still have fun at home. I've got 10 staycation ideas for your stay at home spring break. 

how to stay at home during quarantine and shelter in place


Tips for Growing Tulips

Tulips are one of the prettiest bulb flowers with deep, rich colors of almost every hue.
While tulips are perennial, they often have to be grown as annuals, especially in hotter climates that do not really suit them. To start them off many gardeners in temperate regions need to place the bulbs in the crisper section of the refrigerator for 10-14 days. Thankfully, in the Puget Sound region where I live, tulips grow great. We even have an annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival that draws crowds from all over the world during the month of April. 

Gardeners who live south of the sub-tropical regions should be able to grow tulips. There are more varieties now than there used to be, and these – Single Late Tulips - are better suited to warmer temperatures. They are sometimes called French Tulips or Warm Climate Tulips. Whatever the variety, here are some tips for growing tulips.

skagit valley tulip festival

How to Stay Sane with your Teens During Social Distancing

Who even had heard of social distancing two weeks ago? Introverts practice it well and now the rest of us are being called to give it a shot in an effort to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19. There are a lot of unknowns. We are all learning how to navigate a world in a pandemic. Let's try to navigate this together and find ways to stay busy and sane with your teens during social distancing. I have a few ideas for you.


Everything You Need to Know About Visiting the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is one of the largest destination events for the greater Seattle area during the spring. Mother Nature decides when the tulips bloom, but you'll likely find rows of colorful flowers in bloom during the month of April. During the tulip festival, millions of flowers come to life creating a magnificent display of color. I've got everything you need to know if you want to visit the Skagit Valley during the Tulip Festival.
seattle tulip spring festival

Everything You Need to Survive Quarantine

We live in the greater Seattle area, the epicenter of COVID-19. After my no-spend challenge month in February, our home was in desperate need of toilet paper. Like, down to the last few rolls desperate. I didn't realize the dire situation we were in until I walked the aisles of my Costco and shelves were empty. Mind you, there were full shelves of cleaning products and soap {at that time}, but there was zero toilet paper and bottled water. These times we are in are a little crazy. I'm not remembering anything like this. Ever. I don't know anyone {right now, thankfully!} diagnosed with Coronaviris, but we have all been affected in some way by interruptions to our daily life.

I'm thinking it's safe to say that we should be prepared for anything. Not in a panic, but just a general, get yourselves ready. The polite buzzword I'm hearing around Seattle is "social distancing", others call it self-quarantine. As Coronaviris upends our life, here are some things that you might need in order to prepare to be home during this outbreak.


10 Life Skills Your Teen Needs Before They Move Out for College

One of the things parents often wonder as they get ready to send their teens off into the world is "are they prepared." With a daughter about ready to move out this summer and head to college, this has been one of the things as parents, that we think of often. With heavy required course loads, teens don't' have the flexibility in their schedules to take life-skills classes, and schools often don't have them available anymore. Life demands can get in the way of us teaching our teens the basic life skills they need before they move out of the house and head to college, but I've got you covered! Here are 10 life skills your teen needs to be an independent responsible young adult. 

college kid, life skills for teenagers

Mexican Recipes Teens can Make for Spanish Class

Students often take a foreign language in middle or high school and part of the immersion into the culture is creating a recipe to try and share with the class. I know my teens have been part of several food sharing days and instead of mom whipping up something at home, I have gathered a few recipes that are easy enough for your teens to make. 

loaded nacho chips


No Spend Challenge Recap: How You can Save Thousands of Dollars in Just One Month Too!

During the month of February, I decided to take on a no-spend challenge. In case you aren't sure what that is, I laid out all of the details here. Essentially, you make a conscious effort to not spend any money on non-essential items. Every family will have different end goals and different rules for their no spend challenge, here are ours. I'm fairly budget conscious and pretty frugal and I learned a lot during this challenge that makes me think that having a no-spend challenge month at least once a year, would be a great reset for any family regardless of their financial situation. I just crunched the numbers and I'm shocked at not only how much I was able to save this month, but how much I was able to save annually, just by paying attention to a few of our reoccurring bills and making some changes. Want to see how our family did? I'm talking real numbers today. Come check it out!

how you can save thousands of dollars without changing much at all


How to Clean without Chemicals

How to Clean without Chemicals

When the spring flowers start popping through the dirt and the days get just a little bit longer, I start getting excited for spring. I throw open my windows and start airing the house out and I also get the itch to start cleaning off the cobwebs and wiping away the dust that's settled during the winter. For years I thought that if my house didn't smell like bleach after a thorough cleaning, then it wasn't really clean, but I slowly started using chemical-free products and found that I could get my cleaning done without any harsh pollutants. I'm showing you how you can clean your home without harsh chemicals with products you probably already have in your home.

spring cleaning without harsh chemicals and using non-toxic products


How to Live Cheap without Feeling Cheap

If you are new to frugal living, it can start to feel like everything involves either living cheap or feeling cheap. While living frugally can be a little restrictive at first, it doesn’t have to feel cheap! There are so many ways you can save money, reduce your expenses, and live frugally without feeling cheap! Here are five ways you can live cheap without feeling cheap.

money saving without losing yourself


How to Save Money with a Pantry Challenge

One of my goals with the no spend challenge month was to cut my grocery bill to only $100 for the month for our family of four and use items in the pantry and freezer. I often forget what I have on hand and then buy more, or stock up on a good deal, but then never use up what I have. {If you are curious about the details of a no spend challenge, start here.} The interesting thing about a no-spend challenge is that there really are no rules. Every family is different in how they go about tackling the challenge. 

Want to know our family rules for the no spend challenge? Check out this post

For me, I knew I had a stocked pantry and freezer that rarely get used up. I knew taking the pantry challenge would help me focus on using what I already had. Regardless if you are joining me on a no-spend challenge journey or not, you may want to try a pantry challenge. Here are some tips on how you can save money with a pantry challenge.
no spend challenge success tips


Surprising Library Benefits that Will Save You Money!

I can't think about the library without remembering the song my kids' favorite little aardvark on PBS used to sing. It went something like this "having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card." And boy, ain't that the truth! I am a huge reader, and lately, I've been loving audiobooks {though sometimes I show my age and call them books on tape, who else is with me?} and never once have I strayed from my love of the library. But after talking to some of my local friends, I know they have forgotten to use the library as a resource because when I got on a little tangent about the surprising benefits and the offerings of the library, most people sat mouth agape saying "I didn't know that!".  
We are in the thick of a no-spend challenge {click the link to read more}, and I can't think of a better way to help encourage you to save money than at the library! Come check out the surprising library benefits that will save you money! Let me just tell you now, the library is more than just books!

the library has more than books

The Real Cost of the Impulse Buy: 7 Ways to Stop Overspending on Impulse Buys

We are in the thick of the no spend February challenge, hands up if you are with me! It has made me start thinking about how I spend money during the month. For me, I spend the most each month at the grocery store. We all need food and we all need to eat, so it's easy for me to think that what I purchase at the grocery store is a necessity. But it's not. I know I'm not alone because a recent survey I read said that more than 70% of people said that food was their biggest impulse purchase. 

Regardless of what your weakness is or how you justify it, we all have unplanned purchases so how can we cut back on those purchases and use that money on things we have planned for {a new car without a car payment} or something that brings us joy {a bucket list vacation}

no spend month challenge

The Biggest Loser Reboot: A Former Contestant Speaks Out

I have loved reality TV since the early days of  COPS and MTV's The Real World. I easily got sucked into season after season of The Biggest Loser, and I must confess, I was kind of surprised when I noticed that the show, after running for 17 seasons slowly disappeared from the television lineup. While there is no shortage of reality TV out there, it was a show my husband and I enjoyed watching together. After taking a four-year break, the show is back, this time on a new network with a reboot. I had the chance to sit down with season 2's runner up Suzy Hoover recently to ask her what she thought of the new show. Let's just say, she's not hopeful.

what a former biggest loser contestant wants you to know about the reboot

No Spend Challenge Month: Saving Money on Utilities

When I started thinking about the details and the rules I was going to impose during my no spend challenge month, utilities were one thing that came up as a non-negotiable item that would be paid. Regardless if you own a home or are renting, there are monthly bills that come with living somewhere. These utility bills, we will call them, seem hard to budget for, and there is little wiggle room in paying for them. It almost feels like you can't lower your utility bills, but I'm going to help you take a look at a few ways you can lower those standard utility bills to save money.

saving money on utilities


Why Travel Matters: Stories from Bangladesh

The thing I love about travel is how it can change people. And not only that, how two people traveling on the same trip can be impacted in different ways by the people that they meet. In 2018, I had the opportunity to travel with World Vision to the slums of Bangladesh. I will never forget the small group of street children {ages 8-14} that spent the bulk of their days working and their afternoons at a special school run by World Vision that was formed to help them keep up in the classes they were missing. I won't forget the eight-year-old child that told me that she gleans for work scraping up the tiny grains of rice that were thrown to the floor at a local market. Gleaning was something I didn't even know was still something being done outside of Bible times but this child was working 6-8 hours daily doing it to help provide food for her family. I also will never forget seeing for myself how very dangerous life in the slums can be and how children are literally slipping through the cracks and drowning.

Paula was with me on that trip. She is a faithful volunteer and is now a World Vision employee in Nashville, TN. I really got to know her on that trip to Bangladesh and have come to love her like a sister. Sometimes when we travel, it takes months or even years to process fully the experience, especially travel with an NGO to a hard place like Bangladesh. I've heard Paula talk about the impact of one of our security details, a man named Delowar, but when she typed up her story, I finally got a chance to really see how that "chance" encounter has changed her life.

Paula has graciously allowed me to share her story here.

Bangladesh indigenous tribe


No Spend Challenge: Our Family Rules

Last week, I introduced you all to a no-spend challenge. A no-spend month or a no-spend challenge is where you don't spend money in a certain area for a designated period of time. The rules are different for everyone, but the goal is to cut back on overspending and reevaluate your spending habits. I can't set the rules for you because everyone's intention for the challenge will be different, but I can share the rules that our family has decided to use for this monthly challenge.
It's not too late to join us for the no spend February challenge! If you're curious, here are the rules our family will be following.

Last Minutes Valentine's Day Gifts under $10 All Available with Prime!

Some holidays just sneak up on you. Valentine's day is one of them. At least for me! So how can you quickly and easily get prepared for the upcoming holiday without spending a lot of dough but still show the people you love how much they mean to you? I've got you covered. I've got the perfect last-minute Valentine's day gifts all under $10 and all available with Amazon Prime. You're welcome.


No Spend Month Challenge

I'm fairly frugal but I have never taken part in a no spend month. A few weeks ago, I was at book club and a few of my friends were talking about currently being in the thick of a no spend month. I had never even heard of this. Though the name was self-explanatory, the idea was foreign to me. I'd never considered trying to attempt a no-spend month. Especially as a family...with teens...who have jobs and make their own money. We don't have any debt and we live really well on a budget so I guess the idea never occurred to me. But I thought the idea of pushing reset on our unnecessary spending and being intentional in our shopping habits could be really beneficial overall.

A no-spend month or a no-spend challenge is where you don't spend money in a certain area for a designated period of time. The rules are different for everyone, but the goal is to cut back on overspending and reevaluate your spending habits. Do you think a no spend month sounds interesting? Maybe something you would like to learn more about? Then read on! I've got a little no spend challenge for you!
family money saving challenge

10 Travel Safety Tips You Should Know

In general, the world is a relatively safe place for travelers. It's always a good idea to be prepared so that you can minimize the chances of something bad happening to you when you are traveling. The truth is, we are more vulnerable when we travel. It's easy to get lost or confused and there are many times when we might struggle with the language or customs of an area we are visiting. These 10 safety tips are fairly easy to implement so that you can be prepared and just a little bit less vulnerable next time you travel.

The Best Times to Visit Disney World or Disneyland Without Missing School

Taking a Disney vacation can be one of the best trips you go on as a family! Disney World is magical, but it can also be an unpleasant experience. The large crowds and high temperatures can turn a magical vacation into a miserable experience. We all know that the best times to visit Disney are during the offseason, but many of us can’t afford to pull our kids out of school every time we want to take a trip! And as kids get older it's harder and harder for them to miss school. If you are looking for a way to visit Disney without missing any school, here are the best times to visit.

mouse ears in front of walt disney world


Common Homework Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Everyone has their own opinions about homework, and regardless of how you feel about it, it's a basic pillar of our education system. By now, your students are settled into the school year, and homework assignments, projects and papers all come with their own unintentional mistakes. As parents, we want to do what we can to help our children succeed and learn from those mistakes so that when it really counts, kids can perform their best. Here are some common homework mistakes students make and tips on how you can help avoid them.

child doing homework


Travel Checklist: Everything To Do The Day Before Vacation

Have you ever had so many things to do that you get stuck not knowing what to do first? This can be kind of tricky when it comes to planning a vacation! We are all ready for our trip with fresh plans and new outfits, but we don’t know what we need to do before we leave! If you are planning a trip before you leave, here is everything you should do the day before your vacation.

travel tips for your trip


Teaching Your Teen to Drive: 4 Ways to Keep Your Cool

Of all the milestones to look forward to, teaching your teen to drive is probably the most frightening and stress-inducing. There’s nothing like barreling down the highway at Mach 1 with a squirrel behind the wheel. Okay, that’s not exactly how it is but you understand the panic-inducing feeling that image has to invoke right?

When listening to other parents talk about teaching their teens how to drive, there is an almost immediate feeling of “thank goodness that’s not me” followed by a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach because eventually, it will be you and keeping your cool when your teen is behind the wheel is just as scary as it is important, to their success and to your sanity. Here are four tips for not keeping your cool while teaching your teen to drive.

teen driver

5 Reasons to Send a Handwritten Note PLUS Free Card Download

We just came out of one of my favorite seasons of the year. I love sending and receiving Christmas cards and every day when we check the mail, it's like a fun surprise seeing who sent a card that day. Bonus points if it's got a fun handwritten message or letter inside. The art of sending and receiving mail is dying, and sadly, I'm noticing fewer and fewer Christmas cards and letters too. But I'm hoping the art of letter writing isn't dead. I get it, sending texts are easier, but don't you get that rush when you see a handwritten note in your mailbox instead of a bill? Today I'm sharing a free PDF file with several different card designs that you can color in or paint with watercolor and then send off to a friend. Let's make sure the art of letter writing doesn't die!

why send a handwritten note


10 Things Professionals Do Every Time They Clean a Home

If you’ve ever had your home professionally cleaned before, then you know the fantastic feeling you get from a genuinely spotless home. Professional cleaners do a better job of making our homes sparkle, and despite all my scrubbing and time spent cleaning, this is a reality I’m having a tough time facing. However, if you want to make your home sparkle like a cleaning crew just came through, you don’t need need to hire the professionals! Here are ten things that professionals do every time they clean a home.

cleaning your home house cleaning tips

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