Sunday, November 9, 2014

That's a Wrap!

It's only November but my mind is on Christmas.... not hard to do since  ALL the stores have their Christmas decorations and signage out in full force! Plus my little elementary kids are practicing all their Christmas songs on recorder, flute and saxophone. (yes, there's a lot of noise in our house!)

One thing I enjoy is getting a good deal, which is why I love Target Clearance, which at times will eventually reach 70% and even 90% for certain seasonal products. After Halloween I purchased a bunch of stuff for 70 and 90% off, keeping in mind stuff that didn't necessarily scream "halloween". I picked up lots of stuff for lunch box snacks, like goldfish crackers in small portion packs, and pretzels. I did buy a few bags of candy, thinking it would still be quite fine to consume at Christmastime for the kids' to put in treat bags for their classmates.

In the dollar /three dollar spot I saw a few large glitter pails. There were 2 colors left - glitter white and glitter green. I thought they could also be Christmas colors and so I picked up four of each color. Regular price was 3 dollars a pail but since it was after halloween they rang up 90 cents each. I picked up some cellophane at Michaels with a 50% off coupon and thought I'd perhaps decorate the pail in some way. But then I went to the dollar store and picked up a little red plush Santa hat, hoping I could use it in some way.

Surprise! It fit perfectly on the pail (with a little tugging!). Once I put the handle up on the pail, it perfectly held the hat in a cute position. I am still trying to figure out if I want to leave it like it is or use embellishments to make a frosty the snowman face or other similar feature. The hat also fit on the green glitter pails.... looks like the Grinch!

Here's a photo of the pail with the dollar store hat on it. I think it looks adorable and would make a fun alternative to wrapping paper or gift bag!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Little bit of "Audrey" Costume

It's the middle of summer and I find out that my little girl needs a costume for "Hollywood Week". Hollywood? No clue what type of costume they want for that! I thought I'd drag out a sparkly/glittery dress from her closet and add a cheap feather boa, beads, and maybe a pair of sunglasses. Then, while eating breakfast with the family at a kitschy breakfast joint,  I kept staring at a LARGE poster of Audrey Hepbrun in her Breakfast at Tiffany's getup. Hmmm... what an easy twist on Hollywood.... dress as Audrey.

- Black Dress (I chose a more girlish one than the form fitting one Audrey features)  Found on Ebay      but it is the same one as on Amazon. 
- Strand of pearls. Initially I used one that was in KT's jewelry box but when I spotted a multi-strand version at Target, I grabbed 'em.  (similar ones HERE).
- Satin Elbow gloves. 
- Sunglasses like these from Target. 
- Tiara. Because every girl needs one! Not the same as the tiny hair-pin style one Audrey wore but I think my little girl prefers a 'real' tiara more anyways. I bought a cheap metal one on Amazon. Not the greatest of quality but it is for a costume. Looks really cute.
- Shoes. I chose black glittery flats because she already had a pair but nearly any type of black flat or mary jane would do. High heels too but I don't let my daughter wear those yet.

BONUS: I also thought it would be fun to pass out 'autographed' pictures at the costume party event. Not sure yet if I'll print off Audrey Hepburn's photos for her to sign or her own photos dressed up as Audrey.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Summer is here and we are enjoying every minute of it! There are so many free and inexpensive stuff to do around here in the summer. It is wonderful! Some stuff isn't 'cheap' but if you buy a season pass to things and use it a lot, it actually does translate to pretty cheap. Here's some suggestions for stuff to do this summer.

1. Amusement Park Passes.  Definitely NOT cheap but if you go often, it is a great deal! My kids are all into roller coasters now (my one reluctant one finally decided they were fun) and they've been having a blast. Another fun thing is the variety. Not only Great America but also their water park, Boomerang Bay. It is not  a huge water area but my kids are loving it and a great way to cool off on a hot day. Though much lower key, Gilroy Gardens is pretty and seldom crowded so it is fun to go for a few hours on their favorite rides. All in all, we're quite happy we decided to purchase season passes this year.

2. Movie Theaters. Many, like Cinelux Almaden, have a special program for kids, be it a cheaper day during midweek, or even 'older' shows for only 1.50 and "jr. popcorn pack' for 2.50. I haven't yet taken advantaged of this yet but some of the shows I know my kids would love to see on a (semi) big screen again!  At the same theater, (almaden Cinelux) their movies are only about 5.50 or so, and even 4.50 on Tuesdays.  Check out your local cinemas for their unique specials for kids. There's also a Discount Day on Tuesdays at another local theatre. 6.50 admission.

3. Bowling. I think most bowling centers have a "Kids Bowl Free" program.  I know Cambrian Bowl does. Sign up for their program HERE. Typically you purchase the shoes and they get a free game. Per day, I believe. It is more fun when you go with their friends. Us moms typically let the kids play while we chat. It is air conditioned and fun way to let the kids expend some energy. Sign up!

4. Miniature Golf. Some mini golf places have a discounted day or night for families. The nearest to me is Golfland Emerald Hills and has Family Night on Mondays after 5, 4.99 a person for a round of mini golf. Plus, check out groupon or other sites for deals.

5. Minor League Baseball.  - San Jose Giants. What fun! I can usually get free tickets at various merchants, making this a pretty inexpensive outing, or allowing us to purchase food while there since we 'saved' money by not buying a ticket. The General Admission tickets are only 7-11 dollars so even if I have to pay it isn't so bad . My kids LOVE watching baseball in this quaint, throw-back venue . Last time my middle child even caught a baseball. Go early and the players will sign autographs. Tons of family-friendly fun.

6. Museums, cultural events, gardens.

7. Air Museum - Hiller Aviation Museum because airplanes are so much fun. Plus they have some special events this summer, such as Happy Birds, Raptor Wings and Starlab. Hmm... might be worth getting a family membership!

8. Parks!

9. Drive-In. A dying breed, the venerable old drive-in! Most have closed but lucky me, I have one nearby. These are so much fun to attend with friends - tailgate style. Just bring a chair, blanket, and some type of radio and tons of friends and food and you're set! I've heard it is technically a 'double feature' but I've never been able to stay awake for both movies, especially since (in summer) they seem to begin at 8:55. Tuesday night is family night and each person is $5, with kids under 11 only $1.  You can also sign up for the coupons and newsletters to be in the know of upcoming promotions and events.

10. Krispy Kreme - Oh yes, I know it is a donut shop but my kids are loving this one! First because they love donuts and hardly ever get to eat them, and second because they enjoy watching the donuts go through the little glaze waterfall on its little conveyer belt. The folks at Krispy Kreme know it too so the last (and first time) we went they freshly made the kids their donuts so they could watch. (even though they had plenty in their display cases). One of my kids tried a fancy cake batter one but decided that the original glazed, freshly made, warm and gooey, was the hands down winner. At only 1.29 each donut, it is a fun and inexpensive little treat. If you sign up for their email club they will send you information about promotions and even a free donut.

11. The Beach - My kids love the beach. Surfing, skim boarding, playing in the sand, boogie boarding - they love it all. Any beach. Any time. Fun. Fun. Fun!

12. Church VBS

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Appreciation Gift Ideas

Pinterest has changed my world. In some ways for the better, but it has definitely upped the stress and expectations of being creative. Plus, I like being creative and come up with all kinds of fun stuff.... and now everyone just assumes even my original ideas came from Pinterest!

So I've succumbed and now I turn to Pinterest first for ideas. It's okay; I think all the pinners are more creative, artistic, and talented than I am. Plus, many are sooo generous and put up a bunch of FREE printables. I'm photoshop and illustrator challenged anyways, so I take full (and grateful!) advantage of these kind folks that offer up their time and creativity to help others out.

The end of the school year has truly snuck up on me. I guess I can't exactly say that, because its still 3 weeks away and (thanks to Pinterest) I have all the teacher and teacher's aides gifts all set and ready to go.  I even had a lot of fun doing it. Actually, I found so many cool and cute, inexpensive gift ideas on Pinterest that I have TOO many gifts made and ready. Maybe I'll end up gifting myself that cool iTunes or Target gift card .

NOTE: NONE OF THESE IDEAS ARE MINE! Just the photos and (at times) my own spin.

I loved the cute, colorful cup and Jamba Juice gift card combo that I saw on Pinterest. Really, it is so cute and easy: a double walled tumbler with straw, free printable that says "Thanks for Sparking my Creative Juices!", and a Jamba Juice gift card. Oh, you can also add candy. Originally I saw it with M&M's but Starburst or any candy would work. Or no candy, and only tissue paper or other filler. They turn out so cute and colorful, if you use a bright colored cup. (but the clear ones also look great and are easier to see the gift card and colorful candy).

Like I said, I created too many printable-gift options so my little girl wanted to give her teacher TWO gifts! So, since I had a target gift card in the other gift, I filled the tumbler with Crystal Light lemonade packets instead of the Jamba Juice gift card. Trying to keep things inexpensive, I purchased the tumbler at the Dollar Store. I know, pretty cheap but it really doesn't seem that much different than the 5 dollar ones I've seen elsewhere. I put it in a little gift bag and tied it with a ribbon.  Looks so cute!
Thank you for such an awesome idea! HERE is where I got this awesome idea

Our community has a brand new Target that recently opened up. Who doesn't like Target? I've always loved it but recently stumbled upon websites that really know how to save a bundle at Target! Thanks to these awesome websites, I now have the Cartwheel app installed, save 5% with my new Target Red Card, and have started diligently cutting and printing coupons to save even more money. It can be addicting, and it can be time consuming, even with the sites! I also have to watch myself because I can easily being 'hoarding' stuff. I mean, how many bottles of laundry detergent or shampoo do I need, even if I got such an awesome deal on it it was free or nearly free? Maybe I should begin donating my great deals to shelters or other places, because I am definitely running out of storage space.

I love Target. So, when I saw these wonderful printable gift ideas on Pinterest from I wasted no time in getting a gift card, and firing up the printer. It printed great, and I got out the glue stick and cardstock and created a true card instead of the original intent of the Pinterest idea. Inside the card, I had an area for my little girl to sign and write a note to her teacher, and then I pasted the little red gift card envelope that Target provides. Super easy. But I wanted to give more than a card and gift card, so I added a Target reusable bag. Around here, these reusable bags are invaluable. I chose  the canvas type that retail for 4.99  but any bag would work.  (I was fortunate enough to come across these bags on sale and scooped up several just for gift giving, as well as my own purchasing needs). I then tied it with twine and put it in a red gift bag. Super easy but adorable! I wonder how many of these pinterest inspired gift ideas the teacher will end up getting?

Another GREAT idea was a printable gift tag that you attach to a tote bag. As I mentioned above, where I live, reusable bags are all the rage, due to a city ordinance banning plastic bags. There are so many great reusable gift bags. My favorites are the Envirosax/Omnisax types that roll up super compact and lightweight, and even better they all nest in a little pouch that can house 5 of these little sacks. Though 'little' when rolled up, they're actually pretty large and very strong. I love these things and love the convenience of having them all together and ready when needed. Another favorite is Baggu. LOVE them too and seriously worth the money. Of course, Target bags are nice, and I do love the canvas Target ones. I have found that these reusable bags create very welcome gifts. I've found the pouch of 5 Omnisax bags online for as little as 32 dollars. You can easily piecemeal the individual bags as gifts (each little sack comes with its own tag/label so they make great gifts individually or if you want to spend more on a person, give them the entire pouch). Just put in a little gift bag, attach the "You are Tote-ally Awesome" gift tag and you're done.
While browsing on Amazon I cam across these pretty cute little lightly insulated grocery bags. They come as a 'set' of 6. I use the word 'set' loosely because they very so wildly in color and design. The cool thing about this set is they come boxed in the same colorful design that the actual bag is. Though the original pinterest idea shows the printable gift tag attached to tote bag, what I have done is attached the gift tag to the box that contains the bag. I then add a colorful ribbon and.... DONE. How easy is that? All for just 4 to 8 bucks, depending on what type of tote bag I choose to give. Thank you for this wonderful printable!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Reusable Bags

I love the idea of using reusable, eco-friendly shopping bags, though there have been plenty of times where I've left them in the car (I hate that!) and have to either purchase a 10 cent bag OR splurge for yet another reusable grocery bag.

A confession: I like cute bags and I tend to be a bit of a hoarder. I have cute inexpensive bags that I love from Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, even Nob Hill has some cute ones (though theirs seem to be 1.99 for a similar quality bag as the TJ's for .99.) These bags are NOT easily packable or compact, as they are basically the same size and design as regular brown bags they used to give us for free. But they're great bags, if you know you're going to the grocery store and plan ahead.

I am a sucker for TJ Maxx's huge bags because they change their designs regularly and I 'have to have' that new design. Unfortunately, they aren't that great of quality and don't fare too long, and, because they are sooo large, too big for groceries. It makes for one super heavy bag! Yet I still buy them. Because they're cute. And useful, especially toting my kids balls and playthings to the park. If it gets lost or ruined, I don't really mind.

I also have some foldable ones from a variety of places. I have a few cheap ones from IKEA that are nylon and fold into themselves really tiny..... at least when you first purchase them. After the first use I couldn't get them to pack away nearly as compactly. I have some nice (albeit bulky) ones from Target. They've ranged in price from .99 to 4.99.

Today I finally decided to get a set of 'nice' bags that I can remember and use for groceries. I chose the Sesame Street Envirosax. They came highly recommended. I went with the Sesame Street ones because I like a bit of whimsy and perhaps they'll make me happy while I shop. I also love that it is a set of 5 bags, all uniform in size and I think it will help my grocery shopping.  I also drooled over the Baggu Standard size bags. Their animal print ones looked stylish and fun. Maybe next time. Both these manufacturers are more pricey than I have spent on bags but, according to the reviews on Amazon, they seem worth it.

Today, though, I quickly went to Target to do an errand. While there I checked out their Reusable Bag section They had the usual .99 cent or 1.49 ones in some type of plastic/woven material.... and, at the bottom were a bunch of unbleached canvas ones with a bright red embroidered Target Bullseye logo. I picked on up. It was roomy and looked durable. I couldn't find a price anywhere, so I took it with me on my errand through the store, thinking that I'd check the price at one of those scanners.

They rang up 1.49! And were also on their Cartwheel App promotion for an additional 5% discount. Not much, but something. I grabbed 5 or 6 and headed to the checkout.

A nice, sturdy, washable eco-friendly canvas shopping bag for 1.49.  Love it.