The Very Best in Blogging: 02/12/2016

Should you go vacation while paying off your debt? I'm sharing that post and many others in today's very best in blogging.

Should you go vacation while paying off your debt? I've got an awesome blog post to share with you to help you make up your mind! I'm also sharing a great resource for making those pre-baby freezer meals. If you've ever had a child you know that those first couple of weeks are insane and chaotic. Have meals already made can be a lifesaver!

Without further ado...

Very Best in Parenting Posts

How to Sleep Train Twins: Book Now Available! - Sleeping Should Be Easy

40 Pre-Baby Freezer Meals - New Leaf Wellness

Should a Babysitter Just Babysit or Do More? - Alpha Mom

Very Best in Personal Finance Posts

Should You Go on Vacation While Paying Off Debt - Frugal Rules

10 Ways to Save Money on Movies - The Frugal Girl

Here's How Your Credit Score Affects Your Job Search - Wise Bread

What are your favorite blog posts or articles of the week? 

My Favorite Things: February 2016

My favorite things for this month include the gadget we're using to make sure we don't waste a single fruit or vegetable.

To say that this past month has been about health would be an understatement. The activities that consume our day, the food we put on our table, and even the way we sleep has been healthy. Because of this, my favorite things for this month include the best way to increase your water intake without hurting your budget and the gadget we're using to make sure we don't waste a single fruit or vegetable!

This post includes affiliate links. Please read my Disclaimer for more information. 

  1. Brita Water Pitcher
  2. Black + Decker Juicer
  3. Peekaboo Barn App
  4. Match It! Alphabet Memory Game
  5. iBenzer Plastic Hard Case Cover for Macbook
  6. Pilot Precise Rolling Pen- Fine Point 

Health Favorites

1.Brita Everyday Water Filter Pitcher

We've been trying to be more health conscious by drinking more water, doing the Whole30, and finding affordable ways to exercise each week.

Our tap water is okay but not great and we drink A TON of liquids so we've been looking for more affordable options than buying multiple water bottle cases each week. These pitchers are easy to set up and filter quickly enough to make refilling fast and easy.

2. BLACK+DECKER 400-Watt Fruit and Vegetable Juice Extractor

You already know that we do the Whole30 quite a bit in our family so we purchase a large amount of fruits and vegetables. This juicer is under $35 (!) and does a great job if you're only juicing a couple of times each week. It's the perfect solution to help you avoid wasting any produce.

I should probably note that we never drink just the juice as a meal but use them as a yummy addition to our meals.

Mom Favorites

3. Peekaboo Barn App

I love finding educational resources for my son! Electronics are just a part of life nowadays and while my husband and I are pretty strict with how often we allow screen time for our son (we even ban them during certain hours), we also know when to utilize it.

4. Match It! Alphabet Memory Game

I can't believe it but my son is already old enough to start recognizing the alphabet and working on connecting certain letters and sounds to words. We've been using an alphabet matching game to make the learning process more fun and I highly recommend using this game!

Business Favorites

5. iBenzer - 2 in 1 Soft-Touch Plastic Hard Case Cover & Keyboard Cover

I'm an author and a blogger so to say that my laptop is an important part of my business is an understatement. On any given day, you can find me with a computer in my lap on my bed, on the couch, on the floor, on the kitchen counter, or basically in 70% of the rest of our home.

This case is perfect. It protects my laptop from the chaos of moving it around the house while still keeping it lightweight. The price is amazing for what you get. And they have it in pink!

6. Pilot Precise V5 Stick Rolling Ball Pens, Extra Fine Point

I'm sure I have many faults and being picky about my work pens is one of them. I like non-leaking, smooth, non-bleeding, fine point, and affordable pens. Essentially, I want a miracle pen.

This brand is the only one that's hit all of those points for me so far. And you can pick them up in any superstore while you're doing your shopping with the kiddos so it's a win-win.

What are you favorite products of this month? 

The Very Best in Blogging: 02/05/2016

The Ten Commandments of Saving and Why I Won't Give My Kids an Easy Life are just some of the very best in blogging this week.

The Ten Commandments of Savingand Why I Won't Give My Kids an Easy Lifeare just some of the very best in blogging this week.

I recently found Kristen Welch's (Why I Won't Give My kids an Easy Life) site and I can't stop reading. If you're looking an online-cup-of-coffee parenting kind of conversation, you don't want to miss her posts.

Okay, enough rambling. Here are my favorite articles of the week.

Favorite Finance Posts

Saving for College: 3 Simple Ways to Grow Your Kid's College Fund - The Penny Hoarder

12 Ways to Save for Next Christmas - Money Saving Mom

The 10 Commandments of Saving: Smart Money Habits to Take to Heart This Year - Apartment Therapy

Favorite Family Posts

Valentine's Day Family Basket - The Latina Homemaker

The 5 Friends Every New Mama Needs - Pregnant Chicken

Why I Won't Give My Kids an Easy Life - Kristen Welch

What are some of your favorite posts this week? Share below! 

The Very Best in Blogging: 01/29/2016

Looking for the very best in blogging posts? I do a roundup of the most inspiring content from around the web every week.

It's already time to start thinking about tax season and I've got a post that can help get you started. The Penny Hoarder website is always a great personal finance resource and they've really included some great tax deductions you might overlook this year.

Favorite Money Blog Posts

8 Overlooked Tax Deductions and Credits Could Save You Thousands of Dollars - The Penny Hoarder

H&R Block Review - Do Your Taxes for Free - Frugal Rules

7 Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax Return - Frugal Fanatic

12 Entry Level Jobs with Surprisingly High Salaries - Wise Bread

Teaching Teens How to Manage Money - The Latina Homemaker

Favorite Parenting Blog Posts

Toddler Routines: How to Structure Your Day - Sleeping Should Be Easy 

How to Stockpile Diapers - Joyfully Thriving

What are your favorite tax tips? 

15 Valentine's Day Dates on a Budget

Here are some great Valentine's Day dates on a budget that will make your loved one happy and keep your bank account full!

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and I've got some romantic (and fun!) budget-friendly date night ideas for you and your loved one. If you're currently on a spending freeze or a No Spend Month, you can also check out these activities.

15 Affordable Dates

1. Go on a Picnic

There's nothing more classic than enjoying delicious food and stealing kisses with your loved on a picnic blanket. Bring a bottle of wine if your location allows it. But stay out of trouble by avoiding public parks if you're bringing the Cabernet.

2. Matinee Show at the Movie Theater

If you find the time in your busy schedule to see a movie, especially if you have children, does it really matter if it's in the afternoon? I personally fall asleep around 9 or 10 so I'll take a matinee showing any day.

3. Head to Your Local Museums

Museums often have fairly decent ticket pricing and you can usually squeeze out a couple of hours of amusement. Walking around holding hands with your loved one is free, but definitely awesome.

4. Hike at Your Local Nature Center

Head to your nearest outdoor nature center for a invigorating hike. Getting some exercise in the fresh air is a nice twist on Valentine's Day dates and watching your lovey work up a sweat isn't so bad either.

5. Cook Dinner Together

Why have one person cook the meal when you can both spend time in the kitchen together? Put on some romantic music and buy a few candles from the Dollar Store if you don't have any around the house. John Legend is always a good start.

6. Have a Bookstore Date

My hubby and I are major nerds so we've gone on this date many times before. We head to our local bookstore (usually a discount place) and spend some time browsing together.

You could also buy a book for one another, swapping your purchases once you get home. It never ceases to amaze me when my husband picks out something he thinks I'll like. My initial reactions are usually a little unsure but he almost always wins me over.

7. Go Camping

If you already own the gear and can find an affordable spot to stay, camping is an affordable way to get outside of your normal environment and have some quality alone time. Does it get more romantic than stargazing on Valentine's Day?

8. Explore the City 

If you live in a large city, this is the perfect opportunity for exploring a side you've never seen before.

This is how my husband and I found some of our favorite local restaurants and parks. If we're driving, we'll pack a few snacks or we'll just walk our way through some of the most popular Houston districts.

9. Rent a Bike

Some cities have adopted this incredible idea where they place rental bikes all over. You can rent one, ride around for a while, then drop it off in the same location or in another.

10. Attend a Local Event 

Check your city's local website for an event calendar. Festivals, car shows, art shows, performances, outdoor movie showings, and nature events are just some of the great ideas I've seen.

11. Go Ice Skating

If you're great at ice skating, it's the perfect chance to hold hands. If you're terrible at it, it's the perfect chance to keep saving each other. Either way, it's a romantic win.

Even Houston has an ice skating rink so there's a good chance you can find one somewhere in your vicinity!

12. Play a Sport Together

If you're a parent and have found a baby sitter (!), this is the perfect time to play the sports you love the most. The Hubby and I like to take advantage of local and church sports areas that are available to the public for free.

13. Tour a Local Winery or Brewery

When I say local, I mean very small-town local as this is one of the best ways to save money. We went wine tasting at a small winery, keeping the appetizers to a minimum, and paid less than $50 for the entire date.

14. Walk Through a Farmer's or Flea Market

Kansas City has an incredible farmer's market that we used to love going to, with the most incredible variety of spices, fruits, vegetables, and baked goods.

Grab a coffee-to-go before you get there and spend the morning picking up groceries for a romantic dinner.

15. Volunteer Together

If you love to give back, do it together by volunteering or doing one of these random acts of kindness. Volunteer at your local animal shelter or soup kitchen so you can help others while bonding with your loved one at the same time.

Valentine's Day can be both romantic and affordable if you're willing to look outside of the box. Let me know in the comments below if you skipped the expensive dinner reservation and try one of these ideas instead!

The Very Best in Blogging: 01/22/2016

Looking for the very best in blogging posts? I do a roundup of the most inspiring content from around the web every week.

The new year is the best time to crack down on your finances! Here is the very best in blogging I've found this week on building Emergency Funds, fighting debt, and everything in between. If you're interested in shaking up your budget in 2016, be sure to start with the 50/20/30 Method or the Zero Sum Method. They're perfect beginning points for making your budget rocks!

29 Ways to Build Your Emergency Fund - Get Rich Slowly

Break the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle - Frugal Rules

10 Ways to Deal with Christmas Debt - Smart Woman

How to Maximize Your Tax Refund - Living Well Spending Less

What are your favorite posts from this week? 

The Very Best in Blogging: 01/15/2016

Looking for the very best in blogging posts? I do a roundup of the most inspiring content from around the web every week.

I know my Very Best in Blogging posts have been sparse but 2016 is a new year and the perfect time for starting back up! It seems like everyone is coming out with some awesome content in January. I can already tell that a lot of bloggers are going to kick up a storm this year. Yay! That means more good stuff for us to read.

Here are my favorite posts of this week.

Beefy Mexi "Cauli" Rice Recipe - Healthy Living How To (An older post but a great Whole30 recipe!)

14 Day Plan to Finally Get Control of Your Money - The Penny Hoarder

How to Become an Early Riser, Even If You Hate Mornings - Money Saving Mom

This Organized Life Binder Tour - My Love for Words

How to Make a 2016 Memories Jar - The Happy Housewife

What are your favorite posts this week? Share them in the comments below!

My Favorite Things: January 2016

It helps to have a few extra tricks up our sleeves. Here is a list of my favorite products this month that have given me happiness or made my life easier.

My goal is to spend this new year happy, healthier, and spending more time focusing on both myself and my family. While 2015 was awesome, I want to see us focusing more on our physical and mental health. I'm thinking less social media, more books! Fewer evenings on the couch, more family activities! I know we're only 8 days into 2016 but so far I'm crushing it on my goals. Ha. I can't remember the last time I said that about resolutions. (This post contains affiliate links. Please read my Disclaimer for more information.)

Here are a few of my recent favorites.

  1. Lemon Water (This infuser is awesome <-----)
  2. Larabars
  3. Thomas the Train Wooden Railway Set
  4. Detox Bath Soak
  5. Amazon Prime Membership

Health Favorites

1. Lemon Water

While I consume my fair share of coffee throughout the day, I start every morning with a hot mug of lemon water before anything else. Here's an article that goes into why this practice will benefit you. Personally, it makes me feel incredibly hydrated before my kiddo wakes up and this helps my morning feel less chaotic. You can use a water bottle fruit infuser like this one or just toss fresh lemon slices in a cup, which is what I do.

2. Larabars

We're doing the Whole30 in our home right now as a way to restart our bodies for 2016. Not everyone agrees that the fruit and nut Larabars are complaint but there are no "Whole30 police" allowed on Frugal on the Prairie. I definitely eat them!

I find they're great when I need an afternoon pick-me-up. One of my favorites is the Cherry Pie flavor and it only has 3 ingredients: dates, almonds, and unsweetened cherries.  Awesome!

Related Posts

Mom Favorites

3. Thomas the Train Wooden Railway Set

My sister-in-law introduced us to this set and Santa was sure to include it on his list for my son this year. The trains and wood tracks are sturdy so I'm sure they'll last for years. The link I've included is a great starter kit if you have a little one who may be interested. My son plays with this set for hours. Busy mamas, I can't recommend this one enough!

4. Detox Beth Soak

I'm only in my mid-twenties but I've been feeling so old and achy at the end of the day. Perhaps it's all this chasing around I do with an active toddler? Whatever's going on, epsom salt soaks have been feeling so good during the week. I like this mix by Dr. Teals and found this exact size at Walmart for about $5, so check there first.

Saving Money Favorites

5. Amazon Prime Membership

I just can't get enough out of my Prime Membership. Run, don't walk, to sign up if you like free shipping, watching movies/tv shows, downloading ebooks for free, and unlimited photo storage. Here's what it includes:

Free 2-Day Shipping: Online shopping has turned into a lifesaver ever since my son was born. I'd rather spend 20 minutes searching Amazon for a shelf instead of loading a baby, diaper bag, and snacks into my car and drive around the city.

Prime Video: You all know I love my Netflix but Amazon's video selection (tv shows in particular!) is putting up a good fight for popularity. Here are some of the shows our family has loved watching:

  • The Americans
  • Orphan Black
  • The Man in the High Castle
  • The Newsroom
  • Downton Abbey
  • The Good Wife
  • Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
  • Curious George

Kindle Owner's Lending Library: Any Prime member can borrow selected books for free to read on their Kindle e-reader. I like my local library's digital books app but it really lacks in selection when I'm looking for a particular author or category. This is just another great way to find books for free. The only con is you're limited to one book/month.

Prime Music: Amazon has a wide selection of new and old music that you can either download to play offline or simply play in their Amazon Music app. They recently added tons of Beatles' albums and I'm in heaven!

Prime Photos: Your membership offers UNLIMITED photo storage for free. That is a huge benefit! In this iPhone era, we are constantly taking photos of our kiddos and lives. I would be crushed if I lost my phone or if my photos were erased in some way. This storage can offer a little peace of mind.

What products are you loving this month? 

Interested in seeing more of my favorite things? Click here to find all of my other posts!

Christmas Traditions to Start This Year

Looking for some new Christmas traditions to start this year? We've got you covered! I'm guest posting at My Love for Words today and talking about some wonderful ways you can bond with your family over the holiday season. You may be following some of the same traditions your parents had when you were growing up. But if you're looking to shake things up this season, I've got some great ideas.

For example, one of my favorite traditions is to pass out "Golden Gifts" on Christmas Eve. These presents aren't fancy or expensive. They're just new pajamas and socks to make sure our Christmas morning pictures look great. Who doesn't like to open gifts a little early?

Personally, I've found that creating our own traditions has been a great way to make sure we take the time to focus on our family during the chaotic weeks in December. Hope you click on over to Emily's blog and enjoy the tips!

What holiday traditions do you have in your family?