Gift Ideas, Holiday Gift Guide 2017, Holiday Shopping, Tips and Tricks

Gift List Organizer – Free Printable

How organized are you right now with your gift giving regimen?

I thought so! Let me help you out and explain how I stay organized as I shop for those on my list. Christmas is a 2 day event for us. Both my husband and I have our families near with both of us within 60 miles of all parents, siblings and some uncles. 

Gift List Organizer - Free Printable

My husbands family hosts Christmas Eve and my family is Christmas Day so that leaves Christmas morning for our boys and us alone for Santa gifts and breakfast.

I need lists! I need ideas too so when I get them I need to keep them in one spot and with me while I shop. I know I can keep notes on my phone but I also use my phone for store apps and coupons so flipping between deals and notes is a pain sometimes.

Now there are a few tips to maximize your organizing when buying multiple gifts……

I kept the spaces wide. You can always print extra copies if you have more names and lines needed, but here is why the space is important. Take a look at my ‘actual’ lit for the kids i shop for (who won’t see this post so no worries about spoiling their gifts they will be getting)

List example

Keep scrolling to print your Gift List Organizer —>

Take Austin, my nephew for example. I sent him a text asking for ideas, he said he wants the game Destiny 2 and after confirming it wasn’t already bought by my SIL I told her he will get it from me. But, then one day I was at Ross and saw some Seahawks PJ pants on clearance and had to get them for him. He is a huge fan so I have 2 gifts to fit into the space. See I am not done with my nieces yet-I still need to pick up gift cards for them.

stay organized

Even your donations can be entered so it stays all together for your budget checks.

Keeping it neat is much batter for your organization so having this much space is just clean and better to look at. I use a binder like the one advertised below to take shopping with me to hold my lists, ads and savings coupons.

You will want these printed out and jot your ideas down as you head shopping. If you purchase, a quick cross out with a pen will keep you from having to remember when your knee deep in gifts days later and shopping that long night is a blur now.

I check the ‘Purchased’ box once I am done with that person. That feeling to see a check mark in every box of your entire list is such a fantastic feeling.

The cost section is for you. To look at and cringe or state your budget in advance. But, hopefully it’s there because you did better than expected and you beat your budget!

*Here it is! Click on the Gift List below and print your copies!*

Happy shopping!***

Shop smart and make sure you visit one of my go-to sites Cuckoo for Coupons. They are on it for on time sales at about every store out there! I always browse her site and take notes on who has the best price on what I need that week! New to couponing or using store apps-she has all your tutorials and info in the website too!

Food, Healthy Living, Natural Foods, Tips and Tricks

Have Fun Burning 100 Calories In 30 Minutes #TheDayIsYours

I am a Premier Protein Ambassador and they are featured in this post as sponsored #TheDayIsYours

Have Fun Burning 100 Calories In 30 Minutes #TheDayIsYours
Photo source: Pixabay

I admit it! I did real well with my new exercise and eating regimen then began skipping the exercise. I am not too ashamed to admit I had not stuck it out because too many of us fall into that same rut. For me it was a trip. I was not able to get in my usual workouts and was gone for 5 days. When I returned home I found every excuse to not start each day, promising myself I’d do it “tomorrow”. It is summer, I am so angry I hit my goal season and am not tone like I wanted to be. I have kept up my cleaner eating, but ugh…swimsuits!!

I had to find the root of my lack of motivation first. We just bought a home 60 miles away and had to get out of our current one so the new family can be in on time. Our build is not complete so we are living in a hotel for a few weeks. Time! It has been stressful, good stress, but stress. I worked at our local High school so summer just started for me. Until now it was work, pack, end of year activities as a PTA board member and more packing. So, I decided to choose a daily calorie goal and time goal.

What I want is to burn 100 calories a day while still eating healthy and I can commit to 30 minutes a day. So there is my starter: burn 100 calories in 30 minutes and have fun doing it! It is not hard to do.

  • 25 Minutes of moderate Yoga burns roughly 100 calories
  • 30 minutes of shooting hoops can burn up to 150 calories (go ahead and take the kids basketball for some outdoor fun)
  • Get out in the garden! You can burn a tad over 100 calories in 30 minutes of steady gardening
  • Bored? Take the kids to the driving range! In about 30-40 minutes of hitting balls, you can burn those 100 calories
  • Have you ever wanted to take a dance class? Grab your partner and sign up. Light dancing for 30-35 minutes gets you to the 100 calorie mark. More intense dancing will burn you even more-almost twice as much more!
  • Need motivation to clean? You can burn the 100 calories with 30 minutes of vigorous cleaning or by vacuuming that length of time

Remember! There is no one-answer-fits-all. Your BMI and BMR will play a factor. So to help you understand my numbers I am basing off of my own stats: 5’3″ 132lbs and BMI of 23.4. Above calorie chart referenced from

Remember! When you want to add exercise to your day, you should also add more protein. As a Premier Protein Ambassador I have learned a lot about the benefits of protein from how to avoid over eating to giving your body the nutrients it craves when working harder. It is also important to know what the protein products you consume also contain. Many products labeled ‘protein’ are also full of sugars and preservatives. Learn more about consuming protein, here.

Apps, Car Talk, Sponsored, Tips and Tricks, Travel

Tips On Negotiating The Best Car Price

This post is in sponsorship with I was compensated but topic/words are my own

Tips On Negotiating The Best Car Price

Almost more dreading than deciding on the car you want is the negotiating process at the dealership. We have 2 older boys and my husband and I can’t hold onto cars for long so we are typically in a car dealership a few times a year. Not only are we in a dealership for ourselves but because friends and family ask my husband to come car shopping with them because they know how much my husband loves the negotiation process. It is a bit of a weird obsession he has as a negotiator. So I had him help me gather our thoughts into 3 (proven by us over and over again) negotiating tips when buying a new or used car.

Do Your Homework

You have searched cars galore and now you have narrowed it down to a model or 2 you may be leaning towards. This is where you begin your pre-dealership visit homework. When you hear the words from finance at the dealership “We’ll make you a great deal”, do you really know what a great deal on that car is? Not if you haven’t done your homework. We like using to search for fair market values on the exact cars we want to look at.

Grab a notepad and pencil and write down the make/model of cars you want to see. List the fair market value that matches the exact features/series for that car. Do this for all of the cars you wish to see so it is handy in a moments notice. Make sure you keep or the apps available incase you find yourself liking a different model than you anticipated. Now, you have a number and a “great deal” will be that number or below.

Note Your Bottom Line

You know the fair value so now you can find your best bottom line! This will be what you want to pay after your trade in or down payment, etc.. Here is an example of the tone you can use in negotiation (right away) when it comes to fair value and your bottom line. For this example I plugged my car into – 2016 Honda CR-V Touring Edition. I then clicked on comparison tool and see that the lowest it has sold for is $34,156 and the highest is $35, 139 with an average price of $34, 648. That gives me a good start to find my bottom line.

“I have a … to trade in. My bottom line is $34, 700. I know that fair value is $34, 735  so I am not asking for too much to come in at my bottom line. I don’t care how you work the numbers. You can discount the car or change the trade-in value on my old car but I need that bottom line top be $34, 735 (after registration fees).”

They may try and say you need to put more down (hence, the price becomes more than your bottom line), but you can tell them to please go back and rework the cost and trade in to get you to that number you gave. You may have to have a down payment especially if the car you trade in is a lot lower in value. Know your comfortable down payment mark and if they are close-get them closer!

Be Prepared For A few Hours Time (and no kids)

Most dealers play a game of wearing you down. You come in with a fair value, a bottom line and down payment and they will still try and stay away from your mark. Be prepared to send the dealer back to the sales manager again and again and be prepared for the finance guy to be “busy” and make you wait for a response. This wears you down fast. You just want to accept and go home. We have never walked out of a dealership because we allowed them to break us down-ever!

Keep the kids at home or with a sitter and most importantly, be prepared to walk away with no car! We have done that more than once. When they play hard to negotiate we turn to a phrase something like this,

” Listen. We don’t NEED this car today. You are our first dealership stop. It looks like we are too far apart so we will be taking off. Thank you so much for your time.”

If you have to walk away it is most likely because that truly is going to become your best deal. We have done it and we have been called back with the deal we wanted. We have also used it as leverage for the next stop by explaining to their team that we walked on place one for being too far off. It is a process and you need to be prepared to spend hours and even walk away and start again. In the end, it is your money and your monthly payment that will become your reward for taking the proper time.

So, head on out. is truly a must visit before you head to the dealership. My note above says this is a sponsored post, but I am serious when I tell you that we never head out to shop before using their website to do our homework. I am honored now that I can team up with them for this post. We use it to browse cars, read reviews and find fair values. Plus, when you tell a dealership you found the fair value on it is hard for them to argue with you. Hold your ground, it will work out for you and your wallet.

I’m curious, did you learn something new here? Are you less intimidated to car shop now?

Home, Tips and Tricks

Here Are Some Devices That Give Your Apartment the Smart Home Treatment

If you live in an apartment, you are probably tired of hearing about the smart home revolution. Modern smart home devices can be traced back to the Nest thermostat. A learning thermostat is a nice idea, assuming you own a house with a thermostat you can change out freely.

Photo source: Pixabay

If you lived in an apartment at the time, you sat out the beginning of the smart home revolution. Landlords take a dim view of removing semi-permanent fixtures. Even if a renter obtained permission to do so, they would have to reverse the procedure when they left.

Door locks fall into the same category. They may be even harder to change out because the apartment management would insist on having keys to the home. They would not allow keying the apartment to be under the renter’s control.

But those aren’t the only smart home options available today. And while renters still cannot experience the full range of smart home living, they can enjoy a lot more than they could at the beginning. If you are a renter, here are a few of the smart home options available to you right now:

Home Security

There was a time when a home security system meant professional installation, pulling electrical wiring and some minor wall reconstruction. Needless to say, if you were in an apartment, it wasn’t going to happen.

Today, sites like are changing the narrative. There are now systems that can hide in a closet and connect to your home router. Because they work with your smartphone, no keypad installation is required. When you get a wireless security system, you do not have to sacrifice monitoring. You can still get the same, inexpensive monitoring available to wired systems. You also get window sensors, along with a full range of wireless options.

Now, home security does not have to be limited to single family houses. It can also apply to apartments. Safety should be for everyone.

Smart Lights

Lights are the easiest devices to which one can give home smarts. It is almost as easy as changing a lightbulb, but not quite. Smart devices tend to need some sort of smart hub. Smart lights connect via wifi. A wifi hub is usually a part of a starter kit.

All of the lights have to be able to communicate with the hub. And the hub is what communicates with your smartphone. So before you go out and start buying a bunch of smart lights at your local electronics store, make sure they are compatible with your hub and smart home ecosystem.

With this compatibility, your lights and your speakers can work together to create a home entertainment scene. Or your lights can work in conjunction with your security system. Otherwise, everything becomes its own little island.

It started with Phillips Hue lights. Now, there is a healthy competition for the best smart lights you can buy. Expect to pay $150 to $200 for a starter kit. Also, expect extra bulbs to cost around $50 or $60.

Smart Speakers

There are a few apartment essentials that no one should be without. But there are a few popular items that might become essentials if the state of the art continues to improve. One of those future essentials is the smart speaker. Amazon is currently leading the charge with the Echo. While Google has a response to the Echo that does not seem to be doing nearly as well. Sales figures, such as they are, suggest that neither has quite made it into mainstream consciousness.

Apple has just announced its intentions to enter the arena with the HomePod later this year. It is a smart speaker with heavy emphasis on the speaker. It is designed to sound great when playing music, as in Sonos competitor. Apple’s entry will cost $350.

A smarter home is within reach even if you don’t live in a house. Smarten up your apartment with home security, connected lights, and a smart speaker or two. Now, your apartment can have both beauty and brains.

Food, Gift Ideas, Giveaways, Kids, Mother's Day, Tips and Tricks

Pokemon DIY Party Favors featuring Palmers Candy – Giveaway

Thank you Palmers for partnering for this feature and offering my readers a giveaway. Opinions are my own

Pokemon DIY party favors

With a child turning 9 in a few weeks he is requesting a Pokemon party. It is hard to find the Pokemon theme in stores so I have had to resort to some DIY. He is having his party at a Trampoline Park so I just need a cake and some party favors.

how to craft

I went to Amazon and found some inexpensive bulk Pokemon Cards and Pokemon Figures as well as food cups. I used yellow and green construction paper I had and my glue gun. Then I used R.M. Palmer confections from their new e-commerce store.

Pokemon party

I used the construction paper because filling the cups with just candy seemed ordinary so I created a sort of base, like grass.

making cups

R.M. Palmer candies like caramel balls, peanut butter cups and peppermint patties are now available in bulk with fun colors for all of your celebrations and gatherings. I used some common Pokemon colors like red, blue, yellow and white.

Palmer candies

It was easier to empty all of the candy in one large bowl and mix. This way as I grab a handful for each cup it was assorted. Watch for little hands sneaking into the bowl.

kids and candy

I stuck a Pokemon card inside facing out. The top was a yellow paper glued on and then a Pokemon figure hot glued to stay.

making Pokemon favors

R.M palmer candies listened to the requests of it’s fans and created an e-commerce site for your bulk candy orders. You can find some fun party inspirations too. Shop by flavor, colors or occasions.

Palmer party candy

With Mother’s Day coming you can have a lot of fun creating gifts for her with the bright colors and chocolate flavors she likes best. You get to be creative and R.M. Palmer supplies the chocolate.

Palmer gift

Want to win a prize pack of R.M. Palmer chocolates? Enter below. Open to US and ends on 5/15. Good luck!

Palmer Candies giveaway

Books, Children Books, Education, Parenting, Tips and Tricks

Managing Emotions with the Home Edition: Feeling Buddies for Families Toolkit

This is a compensated post for the review of the Feeling Buddies or Families Toolkit

Managing Emotions

We have 3 boys in our family. I have helped raise my husbands boys since they were 5 and 11 and they are now 19 and 24. We also have an 8 year old. Having a child much younger tends to result in a bit of spoiled tendencies and he can be a bit dramatic. He is what one would describe as…spoiled. We have tried many tactics that never seem to stick. He remains feeling entitled, melts down easily when he doesn’t get his way and tends to get bossy with others. I heard about the HOME EDITION: Feeling Buddies for Families Toolkit when I was approached and asked to become an Ambassador for the brand. I knew this may be just what we need before he gets much older and set in his ways.


Getting Started

We have not begun using the program with him yet because we have some tasks to do prior to introducing him to the toolkit. This is explained in the Quick Start Guide that is the first thing to read when your kit arrives. Here is what your first tasks are:

  1. Review and follow the Quick Start Guide: This guide will give you steps with the order in which to use the kit.
  2. Watch the video coaching sessions with Dr. Becky Bailey in the order the Quick Start Guide suggests
  3. Read the provided book, Managing Emotional Mayhem

By the time you get to Step 7 you will have watched 6 videos, read the book, downloaded some materials to be used with your child and get to know your Feeling Buddies plush and how it will be used with our child.

Following this guide will ensure that as you introduce your child to the Feeling Buddies for Families Toolkit that it will be used correctly and introduce them as tools, not toys for your improvement on their emotional wellbeing. Make sure you take this time first before getting the kids involved. You will love getting to know Dr. Becky Bailey in the videos.


The HOME EDITION: Feeling Buddies for Families Toolkit is a new product from Conscious Discipline, a leading provider in social-emotional learning and classroom management resources. This toolkit known for use in the classroom has now been modified for use in your home with your children and is only available at to purchase for only $99.

Stay tuned as I will post about our progress using this toolkit between now and the end of April including a video by Anthony on how he feels this worked for him at the end.

What do you think so far? Is this a toolkit you can benefit from in your home?