Tag Archives: fun

Feed The Pig {Small Savings, Big Reward}

Hey y’all! Do you want to go on vacation next summer? Us too! We can’t afford to make a line item in our budget for a vacation, so we’ve had to get tricky and think outside the box in order to fund our first ever family vacation. Yes, I said first ever. We’ve never been on a real family vacation before, so we’re planning to take one in 2017 no matter what. 

But how will you fund this thing, you ask? We’re feeding our pig! No, we don’t own a real pig. We have a big, chubby piggy bank we’re feeding every time we find a coin or cash in our bottles and cans for money. All of that goes straight into the pig.

Seriously the saddest photo of a pig I’ve ever seen. This pig needs to go on vacation!

How did you ever get such an odd idea, you ask? I got this idea on my birthday when I was thinking up ways to give a gift to my family because they have given me the gift of love everyday. I shared my idea with them and they love it!

Originally, we’d started saving coins in a clear two and a half-gallon jug, but we could see the coins and after years of emptying it every time we had an “emergency” we decided that just wouldn’t work, so now we’re feeding the pig! So far, we have it about half full already! We estimate there is about $50 in there, but to be fair…it was already about 1/4 full when I first got the idea.  I’m excited to crack that piggy open next summer and see what’s inside!

You might be asking “well, what happens when you fill the pig? Will you empty it out and refill it?” Well, yes and no. We’re going to leave all the money in there until next summer. When this pig is full, we’re going to fill another pig. Ideally, we’ll make our own pig out of fun recycled materials. If we do, I’ll be sure to share the tutorial of how we did it. If not, you know me…I’ll fess up and humble myself enough to tell you we broke down and purchased one at the Dollar Tree or a yard sale. 😉 I estimate we’ll fill this pig by the end of summer, but we’ll see!

We have some ideas about what we want to do. The kids obviously want to go to Disney Land, but I am vehemently opposed. I do not fit that into my list of values. There are much more frugal things to do with that money, y’all! Personally, I’d prefer my kids experience a national park or a cool new beach. I want to experience the outdoors and reset our natural clocks…maybe get Anthony to wake up before 8 am for once? (Yes, I am one of those annoying morning people. I wake up happy, want the house cleaned and children fed before 9 am. I swear, I was meant to be an Army drill sergeant. I missed my calling.)

Anyway, this is going to be a really interesting experiment. If we can all keep up with it, we’re going to have an amazing time. If not, well, I hope the kids like beans and wieners cooked over a campfire at a local campground because I am absolutely serious when I say we’re going on a vacation next year and it’s absolutely not going to be funded by our line item budget – this is all to be funded by coins and bottle returns.

What is the oddest way you’ve ever funded a vacation? Have you ever tried to fund one from bottle returns and coins? How did that work out for you? Share in the comments below. And remember – feed your pig!


A random photo of my adorable son enjoying his first BBQ rib last night. Because my sense of humor is nuts and I love showing off my super amazing kids. Enjoy! 


I had completely forgotten about some adorable webcam videos I’d made of my girls a few years ago. They were rediscovered this morning while I was looking for something else. Apparently I’d started a YouTube channel while my husband was on deployment. My favorite of the videos is of the girls having a tea party. So here it is now, revived for your enjoyment!

Big Yellow Teapot

Hobbies {Toy Collecting}

Anthony and I love to shop at yard sales when we can. We’re a really frugal family who hates to pay full price for anything that can be had for less – and most things can be had for less. One of our newest hobbies is collecting old toys, especially well made, wooden automobiles, trains, and little play sets that activate the imaginations of kids. One of our latest additions was a 1972 Mattel’s Putt Putt train set. We bought it for $2 at a yard sale recently, along with a large amount of small wooden blocks. Our kids are ecstatic! They love the blocks, trains and cars and will sit on the living room floor and play with them for hours. Anthony and I join them often and play right alongside them.

Wooden blocks, trains
Theresa playing with blocks, cars, and trains

Honestly, I never saw myself becoming a toy collector, but I’m really enjoying it! It’s so much fun to research where the toys came from, how they were made, what the complete set looks like, and the original cost of the toy when it was purchased new. It’s a delight to rediscover the past this way, but also to embrace well-made toys, rather than some of the “fluff” that is sold in toy stores these days. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly brand new toys will fall apart and break once taken out of the package. Why do we waste our money on these things?  We’re now in the slow process of completing several play sets for birthdays and Christmas. As we collect more of the well made toys, we’re selling some of our kids’ plastic toys (with their enthusiastic permission) because they’re not playing with them. The more plastic toys we sell, the more well made toys we make room for.

Some of our collections include:

  • 1972 Mattel’s Putt Putt train set  (Ebay link for those interested in seeing it)
  •  1981 Bluebird Toys The Big Yellow Tea Pot set (from UK) – yes, it’s plastic, however, it’s high quality and follows higher standards of production and safety than most toys sold in the U.S. (Ebay link for those interested in it)
  • Old wooden, hand carved cars, trucks, trains, etc. We pick them up, knowing they’re hardier and better for constant indoor play than matchbox cars. Also, the larger sizes are easier for small hands to pick up and navigate.
  • Vintage Barbie dolls, clothes, furniture and her more recent friends and pets (we don’t keep the small shoes, accessories and hair brushes though. Those get sold almost immediately, rather than risk getting sucked up in the vacuum or sifted out of the dog’s food bowl.)

What about you? What do you collect?

24 days until Christmas: Holiday Light Show {Opening Day}

Tonight was the opening day for our town’s annual holiday light show in the park. Anthony and I bundled up the girls and took them tonight as a surprise. I wish we’d remembered the camera, darn it! The girls had no idea what we were doing, so as soon as we drove up to the Winter Wonderland, they were excited!

Nature's Coastal Holiday Brookings Oregon
Nature’s Coastal Holiday Brookings Oregon

It was lightly drizzling and there is a fun new to us feature this year. They were giving out 3D glasses that made each light display appear to be made of colored snow flakes when you wore the glasses! How much fun is that? The admission was only $1 for adults and kids over the age of 12, making this a frugal and fun adventure we’re likely to enjoy again and again. (I’ll make sure to take my camera next time!)

What fun, frugal holiday activities are going on in your neck of the woods? Care to share? Let us know in the comments!


26 Days Until Christmas: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!!

Thanksgiving was really fun! We spent the entire day at my parent’s house. (We are so blessed to live less than an hour away from my parents!) Before we started the Thanksgiving festivities, we had to partake in the family tradition of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade on TV. Since we don’t allow a television set in our house, we had to watch it at my parent’s house. (We’d managed fine when we were in Seattle, because we just went to the day after Thanksgiving parade outside Macy’s in Seattle.) My grandma Verla started the tradition of watching the parade when I was very young, and it’s something that has always been fun and meaningful to me. As usual, Macy’s did not disappoint and put on a good show this year! I was especially excited to see the Goo Goo Dolls on the Lindt float!

Goo Goo Dolls and chocolate. Does it get any better than this? I think not.
Goo Goo Dolls and chocolate. Does it get any better than this? I think not.


I also really enjoyed Joan Jett, Debby Ryan, Gavin Degraw, Jimmy Fallon and the cast of Sesame Street. I can’t for the life of me figure out how the Cirque de Soleil crew kept from knocking into each other and getting tangled up! What a great show they put on! We were all very impressed.

After the parade, we focused on making dinner and were not disappointed by the effort put into making all that delicious food! We’re all anticipating Christmas and enjoying our time together. What about your family? Any fun Thanksgiving traditions? Let me know in the comments!



27 Days Until Christmas: Elf and Turkey

First of all, I’m sorry the following few posts are late. Our internet was out at our house, so there was little I could do to update the blog, other than continue doing the behind the scenes stuff, like celebrating the season and enjoying my family. I hope you enjoy what we did as much as we enjoyed it!


The day before Thanksgiving was pretty busy! Anthony was off work, but we made time to enjoy each other and to prepare for Thanksgiving. As a family, we cooked a majority of the foods together, played games and watched one of my favorite Christmas movies, Elf. It was Theresa and Chelsea’s first time watching this movie, and they thoroughly enjoyed it! In fact, they giggled and hooted loudly throughout the entire film.The next morning, they started quoting the movie.

Greatest movie ever made

Throne of Lies

While we didn’t make a craft, and the day was a busy one, the bottom line is that we still thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company and we celebrated the gift of each other’s company. It was a fun day to remember.

How about you? What fun holiday movie does your family enjoy? Have you seen Elf? What are some of your favorite quotes?


Today we got a little bit messy in the bathroom, as we painted our Mistle Toes! I got the original idea from a Pinterest.com post.

The original Pinterest idea

First, I had the girls wash their feet in the tub. Then I had the good sense to ask them to get naked, so they could take a bath afterwards to clean up the paint. 🙂 I painted Chelsea’s feet a light green and had her step on several sheets of paper. The girls were all wound up and wiggly from a morning at church with grandma, so they had a hard time standing still. But it was still very fun! After Chelsea’s feet were painted and printed, I lifted her into the bath tub for a luxury foot soak, and it was Theresa’s turn. She wasn’t too keen on it until she realized that green feet are kind of cool. Then she realized she had Grinch feet, so it was on from there!

We tried to get a printing of the dog, but Rosie wasn’t too interested in taking part in that. (The dog still got a bath anyway. Poor Rosie!)

When the paint was (mostly) dry, I took a fine tipped paintbrush and dipped it into red paint and drew on the final details. The girls were amazed by how it all came together. I did print some on other colors, but they’re far too wet to complete now, so I’ll have to update this posting later.

All in all, this was a fun craft! I plan on framing them as soon as they’re dry, so I’ll of course update with that, too.

What do you think? Would you kiss beneath these Mistle Toes?

Christmas 2013 Fun

How many of you remember making the red and green construction paper chains in grade school? Usually there was some sort of cute cotton bearded Santa on top, with the chain hanging down and you were to tear off a link a day in order to count down to Christmas morning. Well, this seasonal blog series is a bit like that, only better! With the help of the two cutest elves in the pacific northwest, we’ll be making a craft a day to commemorate the season and count down to Christmas morning. Anthony and I looked at each other recently and realized that we were just as jazzed up about the season as the girls are, so why not have even more fun with it than we already are? We just moved and our walls are a little bare still, so why not fill them with precious memories?

Author’s Note (January 6, 2014): I had intended to do this and follow through every day, but I became very ill, as did my children. I miscarried a baby, my entire family got sick with RSV, and then I got sick with Influenza A. December was a very, very rough month for us. I’m sorry for not updating sooner, but my family and my health were my priority. We praise God for our trials because they create opportunities for endurance, for testing, and for increased faith. We are all on the upside of mending and healing and look forward to a prosperous 2014!

Old fashioned Christmas chain
Old fashioned Christmas chain

Won’t you join us on this fun, magical adventure? Grab your kids, grandkids, cousins, neighbors, friends, students, heck even grandma and grandpa and join us for a sticky, ooey gooey, glitter filled adventure into Christmas time!Image

31 Days Until Christmas: Frosty Countdown Clock

Frosty Christmas Countdown


I had seen the cutest countdown clock on pinterest this morning and I was inspired to make something similar with my girls. Fortunately, my husband polished off a box of cereal this morning, and I had all the rest of the materials on hand. As soon as I told the girls that they get to paint, they were ecstatic and ready to go. 

Frosty Countdown from Pinterest
The original Frosty Countdown from Pinterest

The first thing I did was to unfold the box completely and cut out the largest two pieces (back and front) so that I could stencil them easier without all the extra in the way. Once that was done, I used a small salad plate to make the head. From there, I used a ruler to draw straight lines on the remainder of the cardboard to make a hat. Really, you just need a long, thin rectangle for the band, and short, fat rectangle centered on that for the hat. It’s supposed to look a little silly, so don’t worry about it being perfect. I eyeballed it and it all came out well! 

From there, I had the girls paint the head white with acrylic poster paint. They set that aside to dry, then I washed the paintbrushes out and we painted the hat black. Again, washed the brushes, and they painted the nose orange. From there, I painted the tiny black lines on the carrots, while they washed their hands. 

We watched a couple short Christmas movies while these dried, then we came back and used hot glue to attach Frosty’s hat.  I then was able to place the eyes where the girls wanted them, and glued them on with hot glue. Use what you have on hand for the eyes. If you have buttons, beads, construction paper, or something else you want to use for eyes, use them! It’ll still look adorable. 

From there, we figured out where we wanted the nose. I used sticky backed magnets for this, as I didn’t have any brass tabs. I hot glued one small square of a magnet to the white face, and one small square to the back of the carrot. This allowed the nose to move easily and I am very pleased with how it came out! 

The girls decided that since the “real” Frosty had a flower given to him by his wife Crystal, that their Frosty should also have a flower on his hat.

The "real" Frosty
The “real” Frosty

All I had on hand were autumn flowers, but the girls loved them, and so they were hot glued on! I think they give a lot of color to the piece, brightening it up. Feel free to use ribbon, holly, other leaves, or any momento you’d like. This is where you can really personalize it if you’d like. Let your child’s imagination flourish. Maybe Frosty has a beanie cap or a baseball cap instead of a stove pipe hat? I’ve learned a lot about my girls through their art work, so I try to let them have their say in their art work. 

Ok. Now you’ll need to decide how many days you want to countdown from. I didn’t think our Frosty could hold more than 24 numbers, so that’s what I did. Feel free to add more if you’d like. (And yes, I realize I’m posting this on Day 31 of the 31 Days of Christmas.) 

I hot glued a pop tab from a soda can on the back so this could be hung on the wall. I also ended up hot gluing two strips of magnets to the back so that we’d have options over the years as to where to hang this. I like options. And I like the idea of hanging this beauty year after year. 

Chelsea, my four year old on the left decided to give hers to her Grandma Grizzly for her fridge, so Theresa’s, my six year old, will be hanging hers at our house. My mom was pleased with her snowman, as she’s a nut for all things cute, sticky and made by my kids. (She’s also a nut for snow!) 

All in all, I think these came out really well! My girls absolutely love them and so do my Mom and I. What do you think? Will you give these a try? 

Bath {Toys Embedded in} Soap

While many don’t start preparing for Christmas until after Thanksgiving, or at least Halloween, I’ve already started and been going strong for about 35 days now. Yep! You read that right! I’ve been baking Christmas cookies, buying and wrapping gifts, and watching Christmas movies with my daughters. (To be fair, Barbie’s Perfect Christmas is really cute and totally worth watching at least a dozen times a year!) 😉

Anyway, I’ve moved on (for a little while) from purchasing gifts to making them and I’ve set my sights upon homemade bath and beauty products. Right now, my attention is fully on homemade soap, particularly embedding toys in homemade soap, which looks to be just about the coolest endeavor ever!

While looking around the internet for ideas and inspiration, I came upon a really sweet etsy.com page that not only has some of the most adorable soap I’ve ever seen, but is also for a really good cause! JollyBeeSoap gives 100% of their proceeds on the following soap to K4K (Kare For Kids), an organization through Church Missions Network that feeds orphans and widows in Africa. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s absolutely worth the price of a cute bar of soap – and then some!


But wait! It gets better! Not only does the purchase of this soap greatly bless women and children in Africa, it’s also made with minimal fragrance and is safe for sensitive skin. Now I’m really interested! On the site, there are also other soaps made from vegan materials and organic materials, so you can take care of the earth, your skin and still bless others in the process! I am so hooked!

You can find JollyBeeSoap’s Etsy.com shop HERE and the particular soaps I showcase HERE.

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done.

Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)

So, what do you think? Will you be trying out homemade soaps this year? Are you already making them? What tips or tools of the trade can you share with us? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!