Curls and Pearls

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Meal Plan Monday



It's been a while since we've talked about grocery shopping and meal planning so I thought we would re-visit it! I've talked to quite a few of you, and know that you've been having success and saving money using the techniques we talked about in Grocery Shopping and Menu Prep: Part 1 and Part 2.

So what does our menu look like this week? This is an interesting week, as it's the END OF THE MONTH. Cue doomsday music. You know what that means, we are closing in on the budget. We are in {use up what's left} mode.

Want to know how we budget?

Of course there's a blog series on that!

Budgeting 101: Getting Started
Budgeting 101: My Secret Weapon
Budgeting 101: Breaking Down Your Expenses

What's left for dinner?

Sunday: 

Rotisserie Pork Chops
- Purchased on our bulk buy at Sam's and frozen.

Unthawed and rubbed with olive oil.
Salt and pepper.
Throw in a little meat tenderizer.

Sprinkled with the following seasoning:
Weber Roaster Garlic and Herb {Sam's Club}

Cook until meat reaches appropriate temperature in rotisserie cooker.
It usually takes about 40 minutes.

Creamed Corn
- Home grown and put up to be frozen earlier in the month.



Fried Squash and Zucchini
-Straight from the garden.

Thinly slice your veggies and soak them in water.
Put some flour in a bowl (it doesn't matter what kind).
Toss in some season salt and garlic salt. Be sure to lick your finger and taste the flour to make sure you don't get it too salty. FYI, in a Southern kitchen licking your finger and tasting is totally acceptable.
Toss your veggies into the flour mixture until they are coated nicely.
Get your grease hot and fry your veggies until they are golden brown. SO GOOD! And no calories because it's veggies, DUH!

We may or may not have made brownies for dessert!
- Boxed brownies purchased at Publix BOGO and stocked in the pantry.


Monday:

The classic....Hamburger Helper



This is actually a FAVORITE of Daddy D's. Me not so much, but what can I say, I make sacrifices for my man. Oh and it's cheap, we all know how I feel about cheap! We will use hamburger meat purchased on our bulk buy at Sam's and frozen. The Hamburger Helper kit was purchased during a BOGO sale at Publix and stashed in the pantry.

Tuesday:

The glorious day when my angel of a mother-in-law cooks us dinner!

Wednesday:

Gymnastics night. AKA we splurge and have Zaxby's because we are on the run!

Thursday:

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches...enough said.

Friday:

We are heading to Freeport for the 4th! What does this mean? Probably ham sandwiches!

Saturday:

In celebration of my extremely smart and dedicated little sister graduating from dental hygiene school my parents are treating our entire family to one of our favorite restaurants...Cafe Thirty-A. Looks pricey doesn't it? It's not! Here's a hint...BOGO entree's between 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm. They take reservations!

Here's to making it to the 1st and staying within our monthly budget!




Friday, June 26, 2015

The Honest Company: A Mommy Review



To be {honest}, no cheesy pun intended, I can't remember how we stumbled upon The Honest Company. <--- Linked it. We were mid-journey cloth diapering, and decided it was time for mini d to start Daycare (she was a year old). Unfortunately, due to State regulations for Daycare's that receive government funding, cloth diapering was not permitted in the Daycare we chose. When it came down to it we would rather have given up our cloth diapers and had mini d in a Daycare that we trusted. So that's exactly what we did.

Our issue: Mini D has VERY sensitive skin. I'm talking special lotion two times a day sensitive skin. Our battle with diaper rash was an up-hill journey we thought we would never win. Using cloth diapers had been our solution for months.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jamaica - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly



That one time we went to Jamaica...and it wasn't the most fun ever.

Growing up we traveled as a family A LOT. If money grew on trees I think I would just quit working and travel the world, family in tow. When Daddy D and I met he had been, well basically nowhere. He was totally content with never seeing anything other than our backyard. Seriously, it was mind boggling to me. I mean there is SO MUCH beauty in this world that God has created for us. I feel like it's just a waste of my time here on this Earth not to see it.

I started Daddy D out slow and easy. We went to Nashville, TN, Gatlinburg, TN, Orlando, FL, Atlanta, GA. Like I said, slow and easy. When we got the opportunity to travel with my family to Jamaica, it took a little lot of convincing but I finally convinced him he would have a blast. Because we had such a large group we decided to stay at a privately owned castle instead of going the all-inclusive resort route. Yes I said CASTLE. <--- Linked it. Two castles actually, with two maids, our own chef, and a groundskeeper. Sounds like a dream vacation right?! Wrong.



The only way I can see Jamaica being a good idea for vacation would be if you went to an all-inclusive resort, and stayed there. NEVER leave the resort. We experienced THE REAL Jamaica, and personally I would prefer not to go back. 

Before I go any further I should probably mention I found out I was pregnant with Mini D a couple of weeks before we left. My negative views of Jamaica may have been partially fueled by the fact that I wanted to vomit at the smell of Jamaican food, which is the ONLY thing our chef could cook, and my lack of alcohol intake. Let's be real, sometimes Momma needs a margarita, just sayin'. 



Pregnancy aside, Jamaica is mostly a very poor and rural island. The markets are crowded and dirty. Almost every local you meet wants to rip you off because you are a tourist, or sell you weed. Yes, I said weed. You may even get in a situation where someone tries to purchase YOU from the backseat of your cab. It's a scary place for those that are not fans of "roughing" it. Goats roam the roads like feral cats. You may even end up with goat on your plate for dinner. Not a fan.

There really isn't a whole lot to do if you aren't staying on a resort. The resorts organize trips and excursions that are safe for tourists. If you aren't staying on a resort it is up to you to find something to do. We were in Jamaica for 7 DAYS.

We drove eight hours round trip to see the {Blue Lagoon}. It was beautiful, but it was 8 HOURS in a tiny car. Who wants to spend 8 hours in a HOT car on vacation? 

See this ^^^ that's what 8 hours in a HOT car will do to you....more like HOT MESS.


News Flash: If you aren't staying on a resort there are NO BEACHES. Sure there is water everywhere, but public beaches are few and far between. The beaches on the resorts are man-made. We had beautiful views of the ocean at our castle, but we couldn't get to it unless we took a plunge off the side of a rocky cliff.

And poor Daddy D, he was allergic to EVERYTHING on the island. He was covered in hives the entire time we were there. I felt awful! 

So let me sum it up for you:

Skip Jamaica and go to the Turks and Caicos. 

If you go to Jamaica STAY ON THE RESORT.

Do not get pregnant right before your island vacation.

Say no to drugs and yes to margaritas.

I love our pictures and am glad we can file away the vacation as an experience we will never forget.

Turks and Caicos here we come, May 2016. 





Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Potty "Teaching" 101: The Beginning



So let's explore potty training! I really like to think we are potty teaching instead of potty training, I mean these are kids not dogs, right?! Ever tried to TRAIN a two year old? Exactly, we don't train we TEACH.

Anyway, if you are looking for a successful I potty trained my baby at 6 months or in 3 days blog this is not the place for you, sorry. This is not to say those methods don't work, I'm sure they do, they just aren't the avenue we have decided to go down.

So what exactly is the avenue that we are on? I like to call it the, she will potty when she is ready to potty avenue. We make using the potty fun! Or attempting to use the potty. Mini d will be two in a month and she has recently started showing some interest in using the potty. We actually bought her a potty chair (score at a consignment sale for $5!) just after her first birthday and placed it in our bathroom. We wanted her to get used to seeing it, and give her the opportunity to use it when she was ready.


We like to celebrate our successes AND our failed attempts. We get excited and dance around, while flushing our imaginary "tee tee". She loves to try to use the potty, even though I can count on one hand the amount of times she has been successful. 

She loves to wear her princess panties, even if she potties on the carpet. She will also pick a pull-up over a diaper every single time. You know pull-ups are for big girls right? Diapers are for babies, and she most definitely will not let you consider her a baby.

It seems like the norm for parents to want their children potty "trained" as quickly as possible. Why rush it? Other than of course the pay raise most of us will get when we no longer have to buy diapers. Let them be little. I have to trust it will happen in due time. How many kids do you know that require a diaper when they go to kindergarten? 


Thursday, June 18, 2015

5 MUST HAVE Items Before Your Baby Arrives


SO I very well couldn't tell you what NOT to stock up on before baby and then leave you hanging on some of the things we absolutely couldn't live without!

Pssssst....if you are wondering what NOT to stock up on look over here: 5 Things You DON'T Want To Stock Up On Before Baby

Contrary to popular belief you really don't need a whole lot in the beginning for a baby, and it doesn't have to be super expensive.

What couldn't we live without?

1. Woombie

Right after your sweet little baby is born you will get some quality nursing time and skin-to-skin time. At some point a nurse will come in and in about 5 seconds flat will beautifully swaddle your sleeping baby in blankets. They will even teach you how to do it if you ask. They make it look SO easy. You might even think you've got the blanket swaddling down pat while in the hospital...and then you go home. And exhaustion officially starts taking over as you come off of the adrenaline high. And everything that nurse taught you about swaddling has left your mind. And at 2:00 am you are trying to youtube how to swaddle blankets while practicing on a stuffed bear all while your baby is screaming.

There is an answer to this madness. It's called a Woombie...


This is the answer people, and at a cost of around $30 each you can't afford not to have one. Really you need two just in case you have a massive blowout diaper and one is in the wash.

How does it work?

It holds the baby tightly like a swaddle, recreating the feeling felt in the Mother's womb (woombie, get it?!). This in turn comforts your baby and allows them to drift off in to sleepy land. The zipper is way better than the traditional velcro swaddle because the noise won't wake the baby and you can unzip from the bottom for easy diaper changes without having to fully remove your baby.

Don't question it just buy it and thank me later.

2. White Noise Maker

There are so many of these on the market, and it really doesn't matter which you decide on as long as you have one. Teaching your baby to sleep in silence is a bad idea because our surroundings rarely ever involve silence.


Meet Henry. He is mini-d's bedtime BFF.



Henry makes a lovely static white noise that lulls mini-d to sleep and helps her stay asleep. He's also super soft and lovey. Our only issue, Henry goes off every 45 minutes. Usually this doesn't wake mini-d up, but it would be awesome if he stayed on all night. I think Daddy D has kind of grown partial to Henry because usually when Henry goes off Daddy D wakes up and turns him right back on.



Helpful Tip: Stay stocked up on batteries for your noise maker. You DO NOT want to get in a situation where you try to turn your noise maker on at bedtime only to find out the batteries are dead and you don't have replacements!

3. Ergonomic Baby Carrier


Oh Tula...how you have saved me. This seriously may be the single best invention EVER. Need to clean your house, but can't put the baby down? Need to go grocery shopping without your child jumping out of the cart? Need to keep your baby away from germy, handsy strangers? Need to cook dinner? Exactly. 

Face it we need both hands to function, and we aren't in to just letting babies cry over at our house. I've been asked whether or not this makes babies clingy or develop skills like walking slower. Mini-d is proof that this couldn't be further from the truth. Mini-d started walking right before she was 10 months old, and she is one of the most independent {almost} two year olds I have ever seen. 

Helpful Tip: Make sure you are getting an ergonomic baby carrier, this will give baby and Mommy more support and make for a more comfortable baby wearing experience overall. 

Depending on the brand you choose, a baby carrier can seem a little pricey, but I promise you it is worth the investment. They also hold their value. Many times they actually increase in value as patterns are retired. For instance, my Tula cost around $150 originally. The pattern is no longer available, and is now worth upwards of $250. Would I sell that bad boy? Heck to the no! It's finally broken in just the way I like it!

4. Medela Breast Pump

An absolute necessity for Mommy's that work outside of the home. Again, this is an investment but the money we saved on formula paid for it over and over again I promise. Not to mention your insurance provider may even cover the cost for you!

Pumping is a commitment to the well being of your child, and really a sacrifice that is SO worth it. To all working Mommy's that have gone on the pumping journey, I commend you, you are rockstars! If you are planning to need to pump make sure you get a good breast pump. Your supply is dependent on the efficiency of your pump. 

Want to know more about breastfeeding? I've got you covered...


5. NoseFrida

When I first heard of these magical objects I thought it was a joke. I thought surely people do not actually suck snot from their baby's nose using their MOUTH. Let me tell you, it's legit. And it's all kinds of awesome! Go ahead and throw those nasty bulby things they give you in the hospital away right now! They don't work and they collect black mold on the inside.

GROSS!!!

So just do yourself a favor and get this beauty. When your baby can't breathe and you are freaking out you will thank me. It sucks the snot right out! And yes, there is a filter. 

Like I said, there are very few things you need when you bring home your new baby. If you have boobs, onesies, some form of diapering, and somewhere to sleep you can make it. I promise. But, if you are planning ahead these are a few of the 1st world luxuries we would not want to live without. Our lives have been made a million times easier by these products, and most of the time it was because we experienced the problem before finding the solution. At least maybe I can offer the solution to you before it becomes a problem! 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

5 Things You DON'T Want To Stock Up On Before Baby



Talk about baby prep explosion! Being the {Type A} people that we are Daddy D and I planned EVERYTHING pre-baby. You know what we learned about 0.25 seconds in to actually becoming parents, your plans are basically crap. Excuse my language. Planning for the arrival of your baby sounds like a good idea, and sometimes it is helpful, but sometimes it's just a waste of time and money. In an effort to share some things we learned post baby I've compiled a list of the top 5 things you DON'T want to stock up on before baby!

1. Diapers

Holy moly we had the diapers! We thought we were set, until our little sensitive skin, eczema having, baby made her appearance. Did you know most disposable diapers have tons of chemicals in them and babies with sensitive skin will get awful rashes from using them?! Yeah, we didn't either! We quickly became thankful for cloth diapers, The Honest Company, and Wal-Mart's return policy!

Curious about starting cloth diapers?! Check out this intro post - Cloth Diapers: Getting Started

2. Bottles

Ok so if you have looked over this blog for even a minute you know I breastfed mini d. As a full-time working (outside of the home) mommy we knew we were going to need bottles. What we didn't know was finding the right bottle for our little breastfed munchkin' was going to be a huge trial and error process, which would require us to go through about a million trillion different bottle brands.

So what am I saying? Don't buy $200 worth of Dr. Brown bottles just because your BFF said those were the absolute best on the market. You may end up needing the Avent bottles you bought used at the local consignment sale coupled with those Dr. Brown nipples. Yepp, they work together. Weird.

Helpful Tip: Breastfed babies never need a fast flowing nipple. Always choose the natural flow or the lowest level nipple for your breastfed baby.

3. Lotion and Baby Wash

Again with the crazy chemicals and sensitive skin issues. Did you know Johnson & Johnson is not the only maker of lotion and baby wash for babies? Did you also know it is NOT made for sensitive skin?

Moral of the story - You don't know what special qualities your little baby may be born with. Ours was born with sensitive skin and so the mounds and mounds of lotion and baby wash we got in preparation for her were basically useless once she got here.

4. Pacifiers

SO MANY different brands of pacifiers. It's kind of overwhelming. We didn't introduce mini d to the pacifier until around 6 weeks because we didn't want to interfere with her breastfeeding. When we finally did introduce it we went through many different brands and styles before we found one she liked. She ended up taking the vanilla scented gumdrop, OF COURSE it had to be vanilla scented.

You might ask, why even bother with the pacifier? We HAD to use one to help get mini d's hemangioma meds down. We didn't have much of a choice.

PS: Companies actually make glow in the dark pacifiers. How cool is that? Way cool when it's 1:00 am and your baby is screaming for her pacifier and it's dark and you are half asleep.

5. Diaper Cream

Not all diaper creams are created equal. Some just don't work. Others will mess up your cloth diapers. Some are stinky, some are thick, some are thin. Don't stock up on just one brand. Make sure you get a few different brands and figure out what works for your baby. Heck you may not even need diaper cream, at two we are still reliant on it though! Don't even get me started on those teething diapers. Diaper rash flair up in about 30 seconds flat!

As parents, {especially pregnant and nesting mommy's} we are programmed to want the absolute best for our babies. We also want to make sure we have everything prepared for their sweet little arrival. Sometimes we make plans and God laughs. Ultimately we are on his plan. Each baby is a unique gift, and will have different needs. Planning is good, but don't go overboard planning for someone you haven't even met yet. Spoken from the queen of overboard planning.


Psssstttt...want to know what you should stock up on? Check it out {HERE}

Monday, June 15, 2015

Recipe Alert: Tilapia On The Grill


Daddy D was in charge of dinner last night, and this meal was just too good not to share! OF COURSE it involves use of the grill, you know because that's how manly men cook.  

So what did we have?

Grilled Tilapia: Pre-rubbed with a Daddy D special recipe
Teriyaki marinated grilled zucchini and squash 
Oven roasted red potatoes 

So how did he make it? 

Grilled Tilapia

We purchased our Tilapia in bulk at Sam's. It's individually packaged so you can just take out what you need. We un-thawed what we needed and then rubbed them down in mustard. We ALWAYS rub our fish down in mustard. You can't taste it once it's cooked and it neutralizes any fishy tastes. Yes, we are THOSE people that don't want our fish to taste fishy. 

After the fish was rubbed down in mustard Daddy D whipped up a special rub for them. 

Ingredients:

1 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. Sea Salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon dried dill

Mix it together and rub those fish down! They are ready for the grill!

Helpful Tip: It only takes a few minutes to grill fish so make sure you are keeping an eye on it. If you prefer a blackened flavor, which we do, you want to let it char just a TINY amount.

Grilled Veggies

We have a small garden and have an over-abundance of squash and zucchini right now so we chopped them up and marinated them in some basic teriyaki sauce with sesame seeds.

Grill on low heat in a veggie basket for 20 - 25 minutes.

Oven Roasted Red Potatoes

Quarter your red potatoes and toss them in olive oil. Add a packet of ranch dressing powder and lightly salt and pepper. 

Cook in the oven at 425 for 25 minutes. Switch to broil and broil for 5 minutes to crisp them up. 

That's it! This is a super easy meal, and is actually semi-healthy. I think. If it's not please just let me continue thinking we were eating healthy. HA! 

Enjoy! Much Love, Misti

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cutting the Cord - No More Contracts



If you are still paying a cable or satellite provider for television you are living in the Stone Age. Unless you are in that introductory "gotcha" period you are probably paying upwards of $100 a month for these services. Think about what you could do with $100 a month for a minute??? Exactly, a lot, we aren't talking pennies here people.

So what am I talking about? Cutting the cord? 

I'm talking about streaming.

I should probably stop here and issue a disclaimer...

Disclaimer: I am not a "techy" person. AT ALL. I just upgraded my iphone 4s to a 5s. Before my 4s I had a flip-phone. Daddy D still has a slider. Remember the slider? We do not own an ipad. I think you get my drift. Please ignore my lack of technical terms, I'm just trying to get the basics across.

Ok, so as long as you have a strong wireless internet connection and some sort of streaming device you can stream things like Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu or Dish Sling or a million other things.

We use Centurylink for our wireless internet. It was recently brought to my attention that Centurylink is no longer accepting new customers in our area because they have reached their max capacity. This just blows my mind, they are pretty much the only option in some rural areas. People of Centurylink if you are reading this, which you are not because I am not even a speck on your radar, you need to get with the program and step it up.

What about a streaming device? If you have a gaming system in your home chances are you can stream with it. I don't have experience in this area. The only gaming system in our house is Nintendo. Old school. Because we didn't already have a system we purchased two Roku devices for around $100 each last year. We have one in our living room and one in our bedroom. The investment has paid off big time. It was only a one time purchase, no monthly fee, and we have had zero problems with them!

Check it out:


The instructions that came with the device were easy peasy for Daddy D to figure out, and we were hooked up and streaming Netflix in no time. 

So we pay $7.99 a month for Netflix, and that's it. No comparison to the $100+ we were being charged by Dish/Direct TV before cutting the cord. Not to mention the hassle of dealing with TERRIBLE customer service, Direct TV I'm talking to YOU.

Want live sports? Dish just announced their Sling app for $20 a month. You can get live channels like ESPN and ESPN 2 with the app. This is revolutionary for streaming! No contract. We are considering this for college football in the Fall. 

There are so many other options you can choose and add on. It's endless!!

To sum it up here is my list of pro's and con's...

Pro's:

Cost

NO COMMERCIALS, not sure if you have realized it but the nastiness of "the world" is infiltrating your home with commercials. I knew it was bad before we cut the cord, but now if I watch television at someone else's house and see the commercials I am even more aware because I'm not numb to commercials. You get used to seeing them, and don't think twice about it. I'm here to tell you the majority of them are AWFUL. Half naked men and women, curse words, violence, I could go on and on. Pay attention, don't let "the world" shape the minds of our babies. End rant.

You get to choose what your children watch. Mini-D has her own channel that is strictly kiddie shows. She doesn't even have access to any adult shows. And again, no commercials. There are many times I cannot control what she is exposed to, but this is one area I can control. Control freak? No. I want to maintain her innocence. I don't want her to grow-up too quickly. Sue me.

Watch what you want, when you want. Find your show, hit play. It's that easy.

Movies. Tons and tons of movies.

Con's:

Sometimes you have to pay a little extra for things like live sports. Even the little extra is NOTHING compared to the monthly cost of satellite/cable.


I think that's it. Really. 

Basically I'm saying streaming your television is AWESOME. We were skeptical at first, especially Daddy D. After making the switch I can assure you we will never go back. It won't be long before Cable/Satellite becomes the VCR. Switch now or switch later, I would rather keep my money in my pocket now. Much Love, Misti



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Recipe Alert: Fiesta Taco Soup



Because adding the word fiesta in front of it just makes it sound more fun.

I have to admit that until last night I had NEVER made taco soup. I kept hearing rave reviews about it, but wasn't sure my lack of cooking skills could tackle it. After I learned it met my top three criteria for a family dinner, 1) Cheap 2) Easy 3) Quick, I knew I had to at least try it. I think I can speak for all of us, including mini d, when I say it was a HIT and will now be a staple in our menu plan!

I've meshed together a few different recipes from all over the place to come up with what ultimately became our Fiesta Taco Soup recipe! So.....

What do you need?


1 Pound Beef (Turkey or Deer can be substituted)
2 Cans Corn
1 Can Black Beans (I used reduced sodium)
1 Can Pinto Beans
1 Can Rotel
2 Cups Water
1 Packet Taco Seasoning
2 Packets Ranch Seasoning
- You don't see a packet in the picture because we buy our ranch powder in bulk, not by the packet. We put ranch on EVERYTHING, it's a southern thing. So in my case this was 6 tablespoons of powder.
Salt to Taste

Sour Cream
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Bag of Frito Chips

How do you make it?

Brown your meat. While the meat is browning start opening up your cans and throwing everything in a big pot. Do not drain your corn, but be sure to drain and rinse your beans. Black beans are gross when you first open the can, who knew! Drain your meat.

After your have drained your meat throw it in the pot with everything else. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve up your soup in a bowl topped with sour cream and cheddar cheese. We like to use frito's to scoop out our soup!




This is a VERY easy supper time recipe, and was SO good. We had so much left over after the three of us had dinner and made lunch for the next day that I was able to freeze the rest for another dinner down the road. I've heard this is an excellent freezer meal, I will update once I re-heat ours in a month or so.

Money Saving Tip: If you are living on a budget don't be afraid to buy the store brand. Buying off-brands saves us a ton of money, and you usually can't tell a difference. Daddy D never once looked up at me during dinner and said, "hmmmm, these must be store brand pinto beans."

Enjoy! Much Love, Misti





Monday, June 8, 2015

Camping...Roughing it with a Toddler

The singing birds.
The smell of fresh dew in the morning.
Catching fish for dinner....




Why sleep in a tent when you can sleep in this?! This is my idea of roughing it. When I started this blog I promised blogging about our travels with mini d. Our favorite mini-vacation destination is Live Oak Landing in Freeport, Florida. It's a hidden gem.



Why we love it?

It's 20 minutes away from the beaches of 30A and the shopping of Destin, Florida at half the cost.
Beautiful seclusion with all of the amenities of home.
A stunning pool and fun playground (per mini d).
Awesome fishing and kayaking.
Access to the bay by boat.
Minutes from 5 star restaurants or the option to grill on your back patio.

I know there are people that do it, but I just can't imagine camping with mini-d in a tent. Actually I just can't imagine camping in a tent period. So instead of going camping we go "glamping".

  1. Glamping is a term derived from the two words “glamourous camping”.
  2. Glamping is also referred to as “glam camping”, “lux camping”, “luxury camping” and many other similar phrases. Regardless of the specific terminology, the idea is the same.
You know, because it is totally a legit word. Even google says so.

When I say it feels like home I mean it. We actually pulled up this past weekend, and when  I asked mini d where we were she answered with "we're home." Only it's better than home because we can RELAX. At home we constantly feel like there are a million things to get done. The project list is never ending. Staying at Live Oak gives you no other option but to just sit back and relax. It is WONDERFUL.

The cabins include heating and air, television, a washer and dryer, and even a dish washer. And yes when traveling with a toddler television is sometimes necessary. I know I feel the judgement coming from all sides. Sometimes we just need our cartoons.

So what do you do with a toddler while "glamping"?

We sleep late...7:00 am if we're lucky. Whoop Whoop!
We ride on golf carts.
We draw on the sidewalk with chalk.
We play in the upstairs loft.
We go swimming.
We play on the playground.
We eat and eat and eat some more.
We go to the beach.
We take naps.
We don't ride the boat, because let's just say mini d is NOT a fan.



Other favorite things to do:

Daddy D LOOOOOVES to fish!
Mini D and I like to hang out on the grounds or go shopping while Daddy D fishes.
Destin has some awesome thrift stores!
We love going down to the beach at Seaside for the day and grabbing lunch from one of the food trucks.
Having a fish fry or grilling hamburgers are some of our favorite dinner options!

There is seriously SO MUCH to do. Here's a tip, don't try to do it all in one vacay. That will ruin the whole point of relaxing! Just do a little at the time, it will leave something fun and new for next time!

Another tip, bring your own washing detergent so you can do a little laundry along the way. I know that doesn't sound fun, but it's even less fun going home with a huge pile of dirty laundry. You can also pack less because you can wash and re-wear things like pj's.

Cabin Recommendations: Request cabin 38 or 39 if they are available. They have the absolute best views of the river and best decor in the park! You will thank me later. We stay in 38 almost every single time.

Happy Travels and Much Love, Misti



Friday, June 5, 2015

Zulily - A Mommy Review


Zulily....the mecca of all Mommy online shopping!

So what is it?

If this is your first encounter with Zulily, bless you. I'm going to give you the link, but people please don't take the decision to click lightly. Zulily is VERY addicting.

Are you sure you've thought about it??? Ok, here's the link: Zulily

Zulily represents that they offer daily deals up to 70% off.
New sales open every day at 6:00 am pt.
Each collection is only available for a limited time, usually 3 days.
They offer a variety of brands, and the sales are constantly changing.
They carry baby, children's, men, women, and household items.

How does it work?

You create an account, and select to receive the daily emails. They will email you highlights of what is offered every morning.

Find something you like? Place your order, pay online, your order is shipped to you.

PS: They also have an app!

Pro's

Know which brands you love, and know what is REALLY a discount. For example, we love Matilda Jane clothing. Being the cheap person that I am I'm not going to pay full price for these items. No way! The only way to get discounted Matilda Jane if you aren't working for them is buying consignment, which is hit or miss, and purchasing from Zulily. I KNOW this is a good discount, and I know we love the clothes so this is a sure buy for us. Sometimes the sales just aren't worth the shipping.

You don't have to go anywhere. I can shop on my lunch break at work or at home in the bed in my pj's. Anytime you can shop in your pj's is a win. Period.

Sometimes they have products that I can't find locally or have never even seen before that of course after seeing I can't live without. On second thought this one could be a pro or con.


Con's

No returns. Get something and it doesn't fit? It's up to you to try to re-sale it because Zulily won't take it back!

Shipping Time. Seriously, sometimes it's over a month before you get your order.
Side Note: The shipping cost is reasonable, be sure to consider that when you are looking at your discounts. After your first purchase you get free shipping for 24 hours.

It's likely you will become addicted to this website and spend more than you ever intended. Yes it's true, glad I got that off my chest.

Overall, I can say that I do like browsing Zulily daily. OK OK actually it's part of my morning ritual. I occasionally purchase if I really think the discount is worth it or it's something I was going to purchase anyway.

 Now you know! Check it out at your own risk. Much Love, Misti


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Recipe Alert: EASY, HEALTHY Strawberry Frozen Yogurt


This recipe is actually coming to you from my "make it yourself from scratch", adorable, hipster little sister Lindsey. She is the blonde version of myself, and well some people might say she's the fun one. I beg to differ!

Some sista love, just because!


Anyway, she is notorious for being able to throw together random ingredients and come up with something super spectacular and absolutely YUMMY! A couple of weeks ago she sent me this recipe and said "You HAVE to put this on the blog!" And I agreed, so HERE IT IS!

What do you need?

4 cups frozen strawberries
TIP: She said she had some strawberries that were going bad and so instead of throwing them away she froze them. Because they were so ripe they were actually at their sweetest, which is perfect for this recipe! So if you have some strawberries about to turn freeze them! It will save you some money later. Just make sure your strawberries are frozen solid for this recipe!

3 tablespoons honey
We prefer to use local honey! Local honey is actually great to help combat allergies and boost your immune system.

1/2 cup Chobani Key Lime yogurt

Ok so I would be telling a lie if I said we weren't totally obsessed with this yogurt. This is a FAVORITE in our house. We wait, impatiently, for the 10 for $10 sale at Publix and stock up.

And THAT'S IT! You heard that right, only three ingredients!

How do you make it?

Add everything together in your food processor or blender and process until creamy. This may take up to 5 minutes.

Serve immediately or store in the freezer for up to a month. Um yes, that's really all you have to do. You're done!

This is the perfect quick and easy Summer snack or dessert! It's even great for the littles. Enjoy! Much Love, Misti

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Budgeting 101: Breaking Down Your Expenses



STOP: If this is your first visit to my blog you probably want to back-track and read Part 1 and 2 of my budgeting series! See the links below...

Budgeting 101: Getting Started
Budgeting 101: My Secret Weapon

Now that that's out of the way! On to breaking down your expenses. It's important to note that every person and/or family is going to be different. We all have different needs so this is going to be a basic overview of breaking down your expenses. I will go in to detail about how ours are broken down in order to hopefully give you a general idea of how yours should be broken down.

So if you've read Parts 1 and 2 you've got an idea of your monthly expenses in total and you have downloaded the Goodbudget app in order to track your spending and balance your bank account. The first thing you need to do is look at your monthly expenses and get an idea of how you can group those transactions. A lot of times we are spending money on little things here and there and then turn around and wonder where the money went?!

Side Note: Depending on your religious beliefs you may be tithing at least 10% of your income. You've only got 10 envelopes on the free version of Goodbudget. If you are tithing you may want to just take that off the top every month so it isn't taking up an envelope. Or you can include it in your Grocery/Household Misc. envelope. That's up to you!

Ok so this is what our envelopes look like:

Groceries/Household Misc. Expenses

Not to be Captain Obvious or anything, but this envelope is reserved for our grocery budget as well as any miscellaneous household expenses. A couple examples of miscellaneous expenses for us would be our ADT security services and our pest control service.

Gas/Car Insurance

Netflix/Internet/Cell Phone

Childcare....that's a big fat check nobody enjoys writing!

Eating Out

Utilities

Mortgage

Mini D Misc/Diapes/Wipes

Misti Misc.

Daddy D Misc.

The miscellaneous envelopes are really like our free money. This is where the holding each other and ourselves accountable part really comes in!

Once you've got your envelopes set-up and your bank account balance updated you are ready to "fill" your envelopes for the month!

Important Tip: When you run out of money you are just OUT OF MONEY. Don't go in and add to your envelopes throughout the month. This is setting yourself up for failure. Thus, too much month and not enough money.

As you purchase something or pay a bill make sure you are recording it, and you will watch your available balances in each envelope change throughout the month. There are A LOT of free reports you can generate from Goodbudget that give you a more visible view of your money and how you are spending it. My favorite report is the Income vs. Spending report. This really needs to be your go-to report. Make sure you don't have more going out than you have coming in!

At this point you should be set to start budgeting, and hopefully prioritizing your spending! It's amazing how much we don't realize we spend until we are recording it and looking at it daily. Good Luck and Much Love, Misti