My Favorite Things- Spring/Summer Edition

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It’s Springtime! Time for renewal, getting outdoors, and fun adventures. Here are a few of the things that have been making life easier for me as of late…

Screen Shot 2019-05-21 at 3.54.00 PM.pngThis cute 5×8 Notebook from Shutterfly.  Mine says, “Plots, Schemes, & Misc. Shenanigans”.  It fits into my purse and It’s big enough to where I can actually write and sketch. It’s got lined paper, which is great since I usually draw patterns for upcoming projects.

And what good is a notebook without a pen? This Click Six Gel Pen from Ooly is my favorite pen, and have been for a while. I scored one at Influential Summit in Carlsbad back in February.

Most of ya’ll know that I’m a frugal dame, and that means using tech until it reaches the end of it’s useful life. For me, that means I’m rocking an Apple iPhone 5S. Yeah, yeah, stop laughing. Anyway, one of the things that happens when smartphones get old is that battery life goes poof. To make up for that, I keep a zipper pouch in my purse with a plug (like this), charging cables (including one that is 6 foot long), and a couple external batteries/chargers.  It sounds like a lot, but it’s not.

And the Pouch? It’s one of these cute ZipIt pouches. the best part is that it’s 100% zipper and it unzips into one, long zipper.

Ok, getting out of my purse, and getting back to the house, a few things that I’m digging to help me stay organized at home include:

Screen Shot 2019-05-21 at 4.20.30 PM.pngThis rad Meal Planner! It comes in a 5×7 pad, I just peel one off, fill it out, and stick it on the fridge (using one of the many free fridge magnets from Shutterfly- seriously, they have free codes all the time!).

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

And it’s now a lot easier to get the kids to do their chores with this cool chore/reward chart.

I got it from Wal-mart.com, but Amazon sells it too (and it was cheaper). You choose which chores are appropriate for your kids. I don’t use the little round magnets with stars, I just mark them off with a whiteboard marker.

And personal health-wise, I’ve been digging a few new products:

Diva Cup– Scored it at MommyCon last fall. It is easy to use and clean. I will warn you ladies, it’s not for those of you who are squeamish. But, most moms have seen some shit (literally and figuratively), so it’s no problem.

Hot Sticks– I’ve had these things for YEARS, but only recently have I truly appreciated how awesome they are. I have a lot of very fine hair, so a curling iron doesn’t work- my hair doesn’t stay curly, but hot sticks stay in your hair for 45 minutes to an hour. That amount of time with the heat really locks the curl into my hair. and even without mousse or hairspray, my hair will stay curly for a whole day. I have two sets. I’m wearing them as I type.

Talk Back: So I wanna hear from you… What are some of your favorite things?

 

 

When Life Gets Crazy…

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Oh, God.. I won’t lie. I had this entire post written, hit save, and it disappeared. Further proof that life is totally crazy right now.

I’ve got 3 weeks left of school, then (fingers crossed), I will graduate from college after a 17-year hiatus. So, I’ve got a lot of stress right now, between my regular responsibilities, studying, and getting ready for a huge almost weeklong camping event with my friends and a lot of my family.

I wanted to share some tips for how I keep it together when life is just crazy. These may not all apply to you, but they definitely help me.

Ask for help. I’ve been relying a lot on family, friends, and our respite hours through San Diego Regional Center so I can get out of the house without the kids to get stuff done. I love them, but sometimes shopping without them is just easier. Having a few hours alone to study in the library is nice. It’s hard to study when Legos are being played with right next to you.

Keeping to our schedule. Granted, there have been some changes to accommodate my schooling, but we are trying to get the kids to bed at night on time (sometimes that doesn’t happen), and out the door in the morning for school.  This includes my visits to the YMCA 4-5 times a week. I really believe that exercise helps me maintain a positive attitude and helps me manage my stress. I also have been continuing to meal plan, even though I sometimes forget to post it.

Be Flexible. This is a tough one for some of us (myself included). Sometimes life gets crazy, and you need to go with the flow. Sometimes that means cereal for dinner, sometimes it means going to bed the same time the kids do because everyone is tired.

Give Yourself Grace. Remember that this portion of your life won’t last forever. It won’t always be stressful, busy, or this hard.

Do What is Right for Your Family. This one can be hard, especially since we live in the era of Pinterest worthy, social media one-upmanship. I’m a fucking hot mess and I’ll admit it. As long as my family is loved and cared for- that’s all that matters. And sometimes that means cereal for dinner!

 

Talk Back: What do you do when life gets busy/crazy/unpredictable? 

 

Updates, and Giveaways, and Favorite Things!

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Thanks to the awesome stylists at the Dove Dry Shampoo and styling bar, I left MommyCon with an Awesome ‘Do!

Hey all! I’ve been busy, busy, busy lately and I wanted to let everyone know what’s going on. Two weeks ago, I went to Moms Meet Wow Summit, and this last weekend I went to Mommycon. Both weekends were full of learning, fun, and meeting so many new moms and brands. Mommycon was a great time to meet moms, and learn all about momm-ing, baby wearing, and women’s health. If you missed it this year, they’ll be back next year!

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 10.02.47 AM.pngRight now I’ve got an awesome giveaway for a prize pack of Sticky Lickits over on Instagram! I’m picking a winner on 11/14/18- so there is still time to enter.

I’ll be celebrating the upcoming holidays with giveaways over the next few months,  make sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter so you can keep up to date on the next giveaways.

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Crafting with our BFF!
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Mugging for the Camera!

We’ve also been doing the super fun Mall Stars monthly crafts at our local Starwood Branded Mall. Every month there is a fun craft for the kids, sponsored by a local business/childcare center, and snacks provided by one of the food establishments in the mall. This month it was decoupage candle lanterns, with mini-bons and lemonade from Cinnabon.

IMG_2424.jpgBesides that, I recently helped style a Marty McFly costume for the New Children’s Museum Gala. It was tons of fun to do, and the best part was it cost less than $30 out of pocket! I spent a few days combing through thrift stores and looking online, but I found a puffy vest and jean jacket for a steal! Sears is a great place to find lots of new costume staples that may be harder to source in thrift shops- That’s where the puffy vest  came from!

If you’d like to learn more about costuming on the cheap, check out my articles here and here.

I haven’t shared my favorite things with you in a while, and I’ve got a batch of them!

Everything Bagel Seasoning. It’s soooo good on avocado, poached eggs, cream cheese on top of a plain bagel. I’m pretty sure that this stuff is good on damn near anything. You can also get Everything Bagel Seasoning at your local Costco on the seasoning aisle.

 

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 1.26.56 PM.pngPlus CBDoil – CBD Spray (in Peppermint). I have friends who use CBD oil for a lot of reasons and I was interested in trying it, but I wanted to learn more without a hard sell, so while I was at the Wow Summit, I took a class all about CBD- How it works, what it can be used for, and even how to gauge dosing. If you follow my on Instagram, you know that Bitty broke my bottle this morning. I’m bummed, especially since it was really helping me with the anxiety I’ve been feeling that my prescription meds haven’t been able to touch. Thank fully I have some gummies to tide me over until I can order more.

 
True Lemon I love True lemon- It’s a great way to make all the water I drink taste like something without adding calories or weird faux sweetness.  I was worried about all of the waste from the packets. I found this big 10.6 ounce bottle on Amazon. And the bottle is recyclable!

 

 

The Field Agent App– Ok, so this isn’t a tangible “thing”, but I’ve been doing a lot of audits and secret shops with Field agent over the past month. I’ve earned a few hundred dollars with less than 2 hour work. I time the work to line up with my errands and other trips out of the hose, so no additional gas is wasted. You can learn more about Field Agent here.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about what you are up to lately, or what your new favorite discovery has been!

Why I Love… Denny’s

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I’m serious. Stop laughing! I love Denny’s. Here is why: When you have a kid on the spectrum, a lot of stuff is about textures, sounds… the “feels”, if you will. And almost every Denny’s looks the same. The menu is the same, the food tastes the same.  So, no matter where we go, he can have something to eat he likes in a place that is familiar.

And honestly, as far as diner food goes, it’s pretty good. They have heathy choices, they have junk food, and I can get a plate of scrambled eggs and chocolate shake at 2am if I need it.

Other reasons that Denny’s is the bee’s knees:

  • They have coupons. Sign up for their rewards club here, and they’ll email you coupons frequently. They also publish coupons in the Sunday paper, and sometimes in the junk mail too- just keep your eyes peeled.
  • When you are a rewards member, you’ll get a free build your own Grand Slam on your Birthday. SWEEET! That is Henry’s favorite birthday freebie- He knows that I’ll share it with him.
  • They participate in Dosh. We get 5% back when we eat there, can I can combine that with the coupons mentioned above.
  • The four of us can have a meal there for less than $25.00 (before coupon and Dosh cash back). Frequently there are leftovers too. Can’t beat that.
  • The do have Kid’s Eat Free twice a week, but my kiddos are pretty big eaters, and I find it easier (and cheaper) to order them something from the “grown up menu”. Right now, they are obsessed with sharing the Everyday Value Slam. Henry eats the pancakes (with butter), and Bitty eats the eggs and sausage. breakfast for 2 kids for just $4…. uh, ok. And I don’t have to wash the dishes!
  • We frequent the same 3 or 4 locations and the waitresses know the kids. They are always so sweet.

This week, I am professing my love for Denny’s. What do you love this week?

Make Money while Blogging

file0001174273310.jpgI get asked a lot how do you make money blogging. I was talking to a couple influencers at Influential Summit last weekend, and I decided that it was time to sit down and make a list to share.

There are several ways that it can be done. Here are just a few ways that I make money blogging.

I don’t make a ton of money blogging, but it’s enough to pay for any promotions or contests I run, buy crafts supplies for the Craft Mondays I host, and occasionally a trip to Starbucks for coffee and a breakfast sandwich. I don’t blog to make tons of money, I blog to share my journey through parenthood and my frugal skills with others. That being said, it is nice to make a little extra money sometimes.

Most of these links are referral links, so I will either receive a bounty/commission if you sign up through my links.

Affiliate Networks:

Escalate Network– My least favorite affiliate network, they have campaigns (usually pay per click/sign up) that change frequently and printable coupons. Minimum pay out $25.

ShopHer– Formerly MySavings. They have campaigns (pay per click, sign up) that change frequently, in addition to printable coupons and free sample offers.  Sometimes they have sponsored posts available too. Minimum pay out $50.

Shareasale– They partner with hundreds (maybe thousands) of companies and brands. Search for a company, apply, and once approved, start posting their deals and you’ll earn a percentage of what you sell.  I post deals from Mabel’s Labels, Craftsy, and Cents of Style. Minimum pay out $50.

Massive Sway- A completely different type of network. Massive Sway works with brands and PR companies to bring you campaigns to share on your blog and across social media platforms. Each campaign has it’s own set of posting rules and pay out amount. You apply for campaigns that interest you. I am unsure of any minimum payout.

Many companies have their own Affiliate or Tell-a-Friend Programs. If there is a website that you want to recommend, check out their site and see if there is a “Refer a Friend” page. Schoola has one that I like. When friends click on my link and sign up, they get a free $10 to spend, and once they place an order, I get $5 or $10 to spend too. It’s a win-win deal! All kinds of website have referral pages. I love that Zaycon Fresh (a company that sells farm fresh meat in bulk) offers $5 for new referrals and you earn $1 every time your friend orders!!)

There are tons of Affiliate programs and Refer-aFriend programs. Just check your favorite websites and shopping portals.

Other:

Amazon– When you are writing about products that you use or like, you can link to the items on Amazon and when people click the link and buy the item, you receive a commission. Sometimes there are also bonus programs where you will receive a flat “bounty” (aka commission) if someone signs up for Prime- It’s usually $5.00

Social Platforms- If you area blogger or influencer, make sure that your social media platform profiles reflect that. Here is a screenshot of my Instagram Profile:

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Remember that these social media platforms are a representation of who you are, so if you’ve embarrassing or unflattering photos, you might want to hide them! Brands will research you.

If you aren’t a blogger or influencer, there are still ways to make a little extra money. I wrote about my side hustles here and here.

 

Getting Ready for Influential Summit!

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I’m hoping this is the view I’ll see tomorrow from the hotel the conference is being held at!

If you follow me on Instagram, I just posted a picture with the two makeup looks I am contemplating for tomorrow.  Tomorrow a bunch of bloggers, social media influencers, and brands are getting together in Carlsbad, CA (home of Legoland) to meet, learn, and chill at Influential Summit.

I’m looking forward to a day of learning and ADULT CONVERSATION!!  For those of you who don’t work from home, being a work at home or stay at home parent can be very quiet. Well, you’re frequently not quiet (“Put down the cat”, “No, we aren’t watching Octonauts for 6 hours today!”, “Do you have to go potty?”, etc.), but what’s lacking is adult conversation.

I won’t be posting much tomorrow blog-wise, but check me out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for pictures and posts about everything I’m up to! And I’ll be hanging with Brooke from Crying Out Loud.  By the way, if you haven’t checked out her latest post on ways to score free and cheap grub at Chick-Fil-A, you need to get over there and start reading tout suite.

Why I love….

purple crocusThis year, I wanted to add  a few new weekly posts in. I already have Meal Plan Monday, and I try and post freebies on Fridays.  This year, I’ll be adding in Why I Love… on Tuesdays. Each post will have a Talk Back question. I’d love to hear from you to help make my blog more about what you want to learn about and be a part of.

I’ll be sharing products, services, books, whatever I am into at the time. Starting off, I’ll be sharing my love of… The YMCA.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 11.41.46 AM.pngWe joined our local YMCA two years ago when Bitty Bird was about 6 months old. What drew me to our local Y was all of the incredible options it held:

  • Child care for 2 hours a day while I exercised, took classes, swam, or just went and took a shower.  There is child watch for kids 5 and under, and kids club for bigger kids. Each area has toys, games, and books, as well as a staff that interacts and plays games with the kids. When the weather is nice, the bigger kids go outside to play field games. When it’s cold or wet outside (or crazy hot- come on, this is a desert), the kids get to go into the gymnasium and play games, do obstacle courses. Both kids love to go. I try to go at least 5 times a week.
  • Great fitness classes included in our membership fee.
  • A great pool with an area just for kids.
  • Our membership includes access to all of the YMCA locations in San Diego, and access to YMCA locations across the country if we go on vacation.
  • Guest passes to bring friends.
  • Free classes and events for kids and the family (Our local Y does a free movie night once a month or so).
  • Free local community days- Usually on holidays, our local Y offers the community free access. It’s a great way to bring friends and neighbors to see what the Y is all about.
  • Free guest passes- I can bring friends whenever I want!
  • Low cost personal training and speciality classes. They offer personal training, TRX, and other specialty classes for a low rate. It’s a great way to get a “boost” to my fitness goals and stay on budget. There are also classes for kids: Gymnastics, karate, tumbling, art-pretty much anything they could want!
  • Scholarships and discounts. If you have an EBT card, receive WIC, SSI, or other social services, or you are active duty or retired military, you can qualify for a scholarship (a discount on your monthly dues), or a military discount.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 11.42.45 AM.pngRight now, most YMCA locations are offering deals for the new year.

Join the Y anytime in January and get up to $50 towards any program of your choice! From personal training & swim lessons to summer camps, at the YMCA, there is something for everyone!

For more information and details, contact your local YMCA.

And if you join a San Diego area YMCA, please give my name as a referral: Abby Hewes. I can earn discounts or a free month for referring new members (and once you are a member, you can too!).

I can’t wait to share more about what’s going on in our lives and what we are into.

Talk Back: If you are a member of the YMCA, what is your favorite part?