Valentine’s on a budget

Valentine’s has never been a big deal in our house – a different story when we were dating – but now that we are married and have a kid it just kind of becomes about him.

We have discussed not getting gifts for holidays such as Valentine’s just for the simple reason of saving money. A simple heartfelt card is more than enough. Although, I am still a girl – I would never turn down a bouquet of flowers 🙂 We also don’t typically go out that night because of all the craziness. I don’t have the patience to wait an hour+ for a dinner reservation that needed to be made 6 months in advance! This year, hubby and I had a coffee date two days before and a kid-free lunch, just the two of us. It was perfect.

I enjoy making homemade valentine’s for my kiddo’s school parties -and I have been making non-candy ones the past few years since Jayden really doesn’t need any more candy and gets plenty as is. Here is where Pinterest comes in handy!

Adorable! Bullseye valentines with free printables. A great candy-free classroom treat idea!:

Picture via Pinterest.

His first Valentine’s at school/toddler care I did bullseye arrows. Super easy, print the bullseye on card stock and cut out. Use an exacto-knife to cut two little slits for the pencil to slide in. I found the pencils and cutesy tape in the Target dollar bins, and the eraser topper at the dollar store.

Handmade Valentine: DOH You Want to Be Mine? - The Nerd's Wife:

Picture via Pinterest.

Next up was Play-Doh cards. Again, print cards on card stock and cut out. Then cut out circle in the middle (I used an exacto-knife to start then wiggled small scissors into the slit and was able to cut all the way around). I found the bag of mini Play-Doh tubs at Target (12 or 15 in the bag, can’t remember) and inserted into the hole.

.

Free Star Wars Printable Valentines:

Picture via Pinterest.

This last Valentine’s Day I did light saber cards. Printed the cards on card stock and cut them out, then used a single hole punch to punch out two small holes in the appropriate spots (this varied depending on the design and where I wanted the light saber to go). Once that is done, you slide the glow stick into the holes. I got a pack of 8 glow sticks for $1 at the dollar store – can’t beat that!

My son loved each and every one of these and found them to be really cool – he’s 4! 🙂 I know the time will come that he will want to choose and/or make his own and I am all for it. I gotta say though, I did have lot’s of fun making them! I had so much fun I made a few for the folks at work as well.

I went the candy route this time since I know they all love candy 🙂 I did a combination of two styles to change it up.

Printable Smarties DIY Valentine's Day Cards:

Picture via Pinterest.

AND

I Dig Pinterest: "You are a Gem" Ring Pop Valentine:

Picture via Pinterest. (I did not want to repackage the candy, so i just tied the ribbon around the wrapped ring pop)

Nothing big, just a little something to bring a smile to people’s faces. 🙂

Hope everyone had a fabulous Valentine’s Day — no matter how you celebrate it!!

How to: Holiday/Birthday (part 4)

20151214_183545

We have finally made it to Christmas!

We celebrate with my husband’s side on Christmas Eve and with my side of the family on Christmas Day. Lots of food, lots of love, lots of presents.

Jayden was so excited to spend the time with his cousins and play with his new toys.

I did not take many pictures because I really tried to remain in the moment and just enjoy being in the company of those I love.

One thing that we did again this year was the Elf on the Shelf. We started this tradition last year, but Jayden did not quite get it yet (so it was easy!). This year I got excited and did a little Pinterest research for some good ideas.

First of all, I made him so much easier to pose by adding a little wire to his arms and legs. I did not have to worry as much about him falling over and have to god-forbit touch him infront of the kid.

Here are some of my favorites, and I think they were Jayden’s favorites too!

Snapchat--3255930741051441084

20151226_145409

Jingles arrived with style – and with a present! Here is the finished product 🙂

20151218_072620

20151218_072634

 

Jingles was ready for some California snow!

 

20151219_103012

20151219_102955

Jingles wanted us to get into the spirit!

20151224_083355


A little candy cane hunt with Jingles!

20151223_215131


Jingles was almost ready to fly home with Santa!

Cant wait to see what Jingles will be up to next year!

How to: Holiday/Birthday (part 2)

20151212_181404

After his birthday came Hannukah. We are a blended family so I do feel like we have a lot more celebrations throughout the year.

We do light our Menorah (electric version at home, candles at Grandma and Papa’s), and do gifts but not all 8 days. We have family and friends that celebrate as well so we kind of spread things out. We probably give on average 4-5 nights and then grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins, and friends round out the remaining 3-4 nights. We don’t typically do too many large presents but if we do we try to make it as even to what he is getting for Chrstimas or what we are anticipating from Santa. We would just prefer that he enjoy both holidays equally and not pick a side just based on what presents he gets.

20151212_124355

Hannukah also typically means a family gathering or two, brisket, latkes, and dreidels. This year, Jayden was old enough to help cook the dinner and enjoyed being chef for the evening. He made brisket and Hannukah cookies with Grandma and Mommy. He even brought the plate of cookies around to serve to the family 🙂

We also had Jayden help in the lighting of the candles, and he was also learning Hannukah songs at school along with the Christmas ones, so we wanted him to be a part of the traditions as much as we could. He definitely enjoys the Gelt 🙂

How to: Holiday/Birthday (part 1)

Hello, 2016!!

Been a bit M.I.A. trying to be present during the holidays rather than behind the computer or phone screen -but now I am back!

December is a rough month for us, but also one of my favorites! We have Jayden’s birthday/birthday party, Hannukah, and Christmas all squished into a very short 3 weeks. Not to mention a TON of gifts for the little man – I have no idea where I am to put everything! (Don’t get me wrong, totally appreciative of everyone that gave him something, I just have to better about purging/organizing/donating BEFORE December so it doesn’t look as much like a tornado of a toy store came barreling through our little house)

It started with Jayden’s 4th birthday party. I originally wanted to take him to Disneyland and keep it small and simple. Well, at almost 4, he definitely had a mind of his own and his own ideas of what was going to make his birthday fun. He had been talking about his birthday party since before summer camp began. He wanted a Cars party. The fact that a 3.5 year old was able to stick to his guns and still want a Cars party come October/November just meant that Mickey and the Magic Kingdom would have to wait for another time. Cars party it is.

cars

Picture via Google

We scoped out a few local places, but could not decide right away. One thing we were in agreement of was the date. Being that his actual birthday is right before Christmas it ends up being in competition with a lot of other parties and activities and not a lot of his little friends end up making it. We went with the first weekend of December and let’s just say the guest list was a tad larger than I anticipated. But he was so excited and had a blast!

I am a big believer of having birthday parties away from the home. While this may cost more money, it definitely is less stress. There are people to help you set up and clean up and keep the party running.

On the negative side, things don’t always go your way. Such as for our party – we were promised the larger party room when booking and the numerous visits to scope things out. Come party day, we were crammed into the smaller party room since the other group was larger and needed the larger room. That makes sense, yes, but we had already booked it. That should have meant something but instead it felt like we were just brushed aside. This was a major bummer for me since this is a venue my son loves to play at, and now it is somewhat tainted in my mind.

Regarless of the craziness that any party comes with, I tried to cut corners by DIY-ing a lot of the items. I made the invitations, some of the larger centerpieces, and the gift bags from ideas I found on Pinterest. Then I bought in bulk the items for the goody bag. There were more generic items in the bag rather than ones specific to the character, but let us be honest, at 4 they just like that there is a new toy to play with.

We also planned it around major meal times 🙂 It was a 1:30 party, so while we did feed the kids the adults just got some things to snack on.

Next year, I think we will tone it down and just have a select few friends of his picking and his cousins attend. Choose something more low key and just concentrate on celebrating Jayden. Sometimes these parties get so big the day kind of gets lost in the shuffle.

 

How to: Holiday/Birthday (part 3)

Next up is his actual birthday!

20151220_080836

Definitely not as big, but just as busy. We started the day with his donut tradition  with daddy. He gets to go to the donut shop, just the boys, and pick out his donut. Last year it was larger than his head and was more of a cake, this year it was a bit more manageable. We always sing happy birthday and blow out the candle.

20151220_102834

Once we were up and ready we then headed over to his best friend’s house since it is her birthday on the same day! He celebrated right along with her, and her parents were so sweet they even made him cupcakes and had everyone sing to him as well!

20151220_143629

After we finished there, we headed out with Grandma and Papa to the Discovery Cube in LA because we heard they were doing a whole Curious George theme and Jayden is obsessed with George! While he did have fun in that section (a little small considering how much they hyped it up), I have to say he seemed to enjoy himself the most in the LA Kings section. He got to be goalie, tried to score during a shoot out, climbed up on a zamboni, and got to see the jerseys and other gear up close. As much as he is still a little guy, he is all BOY. He LOVES sports! 🙂

Once we finished up there, with a couple new items to go home with, we met up with some extended family for a small family dinner at his favorite, Japanese Tepan. This boy loves his tofu and to see the chef make a choo-choo!

We had a tired but very happy 4 year old! 🙂

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner – this year has flown by so quickly!

This is the time of year that people go crazy trying to get that latest craze or that biggest deal. Don’t worry, I don’t judge. I am one of the many that go out that night and try to get some great gifts for my family. But the difference is, I don’t really have much expectation. I think this helps us not get involved in all the craziness that happens – I think we have all seen at least one of “those” videos. Wasn’t their someone just last year who pepper sprayed people in Walmart, then claimed that she felt threatened!

My cousin and I have made it a tradition to go shopping together. Some years others join us, but it is always a great chance for us to have some “girl time” especially now that she has moved out of state.

The difference is, we don’t have a set time to start. We enjoy our time with the entire family at the celebration, hang out and play with the kids, eat lots of food, then once just about everyone leaves we start making our way out as well. We never really have a game plan and just out to have some fun, and hope to find some great things.

give thanks.jpg

But before the craziness begins, I want to take some time to express what I am thankful for this year:

My son – he is my life. He brings joy to everything we do, and everyone we encounter. He smiles and it truly lights up a room. I love any moment spent together, and any cuddles he is willing to share with me. I treasure those moments because I know they won’t last forever.

My husband – through thick and thin we have each other. He is truly my best friend, my other half. I miss him when I am not with him, and am happy when we are together. We may go through some ups and downs, but through it all we always choose each other. We choose to be happy. We choose to love each other.

Our family – besides the 4 of us (fur baby included), we have an awesome support system in our families. They are there to talk to, to spend time with, to go on adventures with, to teach us, to listen, to help us in raising a well rounded individual, to be our guides through the world, to encourage us when we may feel lost, and to celebrate the good times that come our way.

Our home – we have recently been looking for something larger as we are slowly outgrowing our little house. But small as it is, it is ours. This is where we started, this is where we became a family. It will always be our home.

My job – it is typically hard to find something you enjoy doing, or find a company you enjoy working for. I have been lucky enough to find both. I had a bit of a employment change a few years back and changed fields. I was fortunate that it was possible with my current company during a time that I needed stability the most. I enjoyed both fields, but knew the move was very much needed at the time. Who knows, I may end up going back once things calm down again. Maybe.

Our friends – a large part of our lives and our honorary family members. I could not do it without my friends.  They keep me grounded. They encourage me to do better. They love my son like their own. They accept me for who I am (crazy and all). They are supportive. They love me. Most importantly, they are there.

Taking some time out to remember all the good in our lives is VERY important. More and more it seems people forget that there is always good – in people, in moments, in life. It may not show itself each and every day, but it is there. We often take it for granted, but it is what helps keep us going, what makes us live our lives the way we do.

Never forget to give thanks – you are more blessed than you think you are.

How To: Make a Fall Wreath on a Budget

I just love Pinterest! I find the best ideas – some successful, some utter failures 🙂

20151110_225539[1]

This time, a success! I made a Ribbon Wreath. I debated for a while on whether or not to make it Halloween specific or just go with Fall. Fall won seeing as that it can be used for a longer amount of time.

I went to Joanne’s and found the white foam ring (full price, but I had a 40% off coupon good only for regular priced items so that worked out perfectly). Then I chose 10 different fall colored ribbons in a variety of shades, designs, and sizes. These were all on sale for 60% off, and the large burlap one was on clearance for $1.99.

20151110_214544[1]

I cut the ribbons into approximately 10-12 inch strips and just knotted them all around the ring, scattering the like ribbons to make it look random.

All in all, it took about an hour and cost about $18-$20 – I finished it off by trimming the ends into the cute ribbon points we were taught to make by our moms growing up haha and took some time messing with it until it resembled a full, semi-fluffy wreath. My one concern was making sure the white of the ring did not show. In hindsight, I probably would have saved myself some trouble if I just wrapped the ring in ribbon to begin with and that way if any part was showing it would look intentional or people would not notice at all since it would then blend in.

I chose to hang it by using an extra piece of the burlap ribbon and a Command Hook since the wreath hook that I have is silver and glittery and just does not go. I like the more natural look of the burlap – but to each their own 🙂