Cutting Back on Caffeine… or maybe not?

Save Over $100 Per Week By Making Your Own Coffee at Home

I had fully planned to stick it out through the end of the month with my Cutting Back on Caffeine commitment for October (cutting back from two cups of coffee per day to one cup per day), but it’s kind of really starting to stink. As in, it’s messing with my sleep patterns and habits.

You see, ever since I went down to just 1 1/4 cups, I have fallen asleep at least an hour or two before I was planning to and then have had trouble getting up in the morning when I planned to do so.

So, you might not think this is a big problem. Except it is, because I keep falling asleep before taking my contacts out, washing my face, or taking my pills before bed (I am currently on a few different medications because of some health issues + my usual vitamins)… and well, I keep waking up at 3 a.m. or so realizing that I accidentally fell asleep before doing my nightly routine. So then I have to get up and do my before bed routine and then that wakes me up so much that I have trouble falling back to sleep. Which, in turn, means I sleep in later than I was planning to and wake up feeling like I still need more sleep.

Yes, I know these seem like such trivial problems to have, but I feel like cutting back on that one cup of coffee is kind of wreaking havoc on my life. And it’s just not worth it… especially while I’m in the middle of mothering, developing relationships in a new community, running a business, and writing a book.

So, even though I’m not usually a quitter, I’m going to give myself grace and just say that this experiment has gone on long enough and I’m going back to my two cups of coffee per day.

Stay tuned for November’s 12 Months to a Healthier You Challenge. :)

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6 Goals For This Week + An Update on Last Week’s Goals

10 Goals For This Week

I’m going to be out of town at a conference half of this week, so I’m keeping my goals short and sweet. :)

Last week’s goals:

Marriage/Mothering/Homemaking Goals

1. Finish reading Teddy’s Button aloud to the kids at lunch time. {We made an executive to stop this book and instead Kathrynne begged if she could start reading Sir Bentley aloud to us. I was happy to oblige. She’s been reading this series and loving it so much that she wanted to share it with us.}

2. Have a movie night with Jesse. {Does watching the Royals game together count?}

3. Write a love note to Jesse.

4. Start a new sewing or handwork project. {I started knitting a scarf.}

Personal Goals

5. Work on reviewing and memorizing Romans 1 and Romans 2:1-3.

6. Finish reading I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t), A Proper Pursuit, and a few other titles. {I made some good headway on my own book-reading this week, but I didn’t finish any books yet. Look for an update later this week, when I hopefully will have finished a few books and will have some short reviews to share. :)}

7. Run or exercise at least 5 times.

Business Goals

8. Continue to work on chapters 8 and 9 of my book manuscript.

9. Write answers to questions for an upcoming online interview.

10. Finish my first article for an upcoming magazine column.

This week’s goals:

Marriage/Mothering/Homemaking Goals

1.  At least 3 days, read aloud with the kids and/or listen to Kathrynne read Sir Bentley. {My plan is for her to read while we fold laundry. We’ll see if that plan pans out.}

2. Write a love note to Jesse.

Personal Goals

3. Work on reviewing and memorizing Romans 1 and Romans 2:1-3.

4. Finish at least two books.

5. Run or exercise at least 4 times.

Business Goals

6. Finish chapters 8 and 9 of my book manuscript, start on chapter 10.

How did you do on last week’s goals? What are your goals for this week? I’d love to have you share your progress on last week’s goals and your goals for this coming week in the comments. Of, if you’ve blogged about it, leave your direct link below. Let’s cheer each other on to live purposeful and productive lives! You can download a free customizable weekly goal-planning sheet here.

 

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Five Frugal Family Fun Ideas (+ Win a Copy of In This House, We Will Giggle!)

frugal family fun

Guest post from Courtney of CourtneyDeFeo.com

The conversation starts so pure and with great intention. You are a fun mom, thank you very much! You want your kids to have fun – but you forgot one thing. When you ask your kids questions, you will get honest answers.

For instance: “Kids! How would like to have some fun today? What would you like to do?”

Child 1 – “Go to Disney?”

Child 2 – “Go buy new clothes?

Child 3 – “Go get ice cream?”

Child 1 – “Okay, fine, how about Six Flags?”

Child 2 – “Just a headband then?”

Child 3 – “Can we make milkshakes?”

And you just see dollar signs and exhaustion. Here are just a few simple ideas on how to have some family fun without spending money and or too much time.

1. Have Box, Will Create

The next time a box comes in your house (or you see a giant moving box around a friend’s house) – grab it! Save it!

Challenge your family to make it into a sailboat, rocket ship, school bus or playhouse. You would be surprised what a family can create together – just need imagination and household supplies.

2. Raid The Closets

Set the timer and tell the kids they have 1 minute to find their best outfit in mom and dad’s closet – they will have two minutes to prepare a song or dance for the group.

If they picked dad’s outfit – they must sing or dance like him. If they picked mom’s outfit – yep, they are impersonating mom. Respectfully, of course.

3. Hide That Treasure

Our family started this tradition years ago and it’s a winner.

We had an old antique “pink lady” that I strongly disliked as a child. I wanted it out of my room. So my mom hung onto it and planted it in my home as an adult. I discovered it and giggled. Then, I hid it back in her house and then it became a game.

Find an old treasure or trinket and keep moving it from house to house in your extended family. The hunt and thrill of the game becomes highly amusing among the cousins.

Or, play the same game with your immediate family members: hide an item somewhere in the house and then see who finds it first. When they find it, they have to re-hide it. And so on and so forth.

4. Sneaky Giving

There is something in your house that a neighbor would enjoy. As a family, make a surprise treat bag or donate a toy to a child. Go deliver to your neighbor’s porch with an anonymous note. All the family has to sneak together.

Don’t get caught! Generosity is more fun when it’s a surprise!

5. Kitchen Dance Party

Our family loves all of the free stations on Pandora. Get dad to play DJ and just pick your nightly dance spot. Challenge each family member to their best moves – the sprinkler, the worm, anything goes.

Remember, family fun doesn’t have to cost a dime. Just pick a tradition and go for it. Don’t forget to giggle!

Courtney DeFeo is the creator of ABC Scripture Cards featured on “The View” and author of In This House, We Will Giggle. She is a graduate of Auburn University and has worked in marketing for Chick-fil-A. Courtney and her husband, Ron, are the parents of two children. To connect with Courtney, visit CourtneyDeFeo.com.

in-this-house-we-will-giggle

Win a Copy of In This House, We Will Giggle!

Need some fresh ideas and inspiration for making virtues, love, and laughter apart of your daily life as a family? Check out Courtney’s new book, In This House, We Will Giggle. I got my copy recently and can’t wait to read it soon!

I’d love to give away a copy to three readers today. Just leave a comment telling us your favorite frugal family fun idea.

I’ll choose three comments on Wednesday and will send you a free copy of Courtney’s book!

photo source 

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Sign Up With Smiley360 & Get To Try Products for FREE!

Smiley360

Have you heard of Smiley360?

It’s a site that allows you to try products for free in exchange for your willingness to tell your friends about the product and your experiences with it.

SMiley360

Around 5 years ago, I signed up with Smiley360 and had received a few free products from them. I remember having so much fun getting those boxes of free products in the mail. But then, I guess life got busy and I sort of forgot about them.

Smiley360

However, when Smiley360 recently contacted me about doing an in-depth review for them, I quickly remembered those free product boxes I’d gotten and knew I wanted to try them out again so I could tell you about Smiley360.

Smiley360

In doing this review, I remembered just how much I’d enjoyed them before and I kicked myself that I’d dropped the ball on keeping tabs on them and free product testing opportunities they’ve had the past few years. Live and learn, right?

How to Get Started With Smiley360

Interested in getting free products to try out from Smiley360, here’s how to get started:

1. Sign up for an account — either with your Facebook account, your Twitter account, or with your email address.

2. Confirm your email address and log into your account.

Smiley360

3. Fill out your profile.

Smiley360

4. Go and fill out the Mom Survey and the Introduction Survey. You’ll earn 55 points for doing both of these things, plus you’ll help Smiley know more about you so that they can offer you products to try that are relevant to you. It took about 15 minutes total for me to fill out both of these surveys.

Smiley360

5. In the Introductory Mission, you can also grab your referral link to earn 1 point for up to 10 people you refer.

Smiley360

6. Then, you can go to the Dashboard again and fill out any of the surveys to see if you qualify for free product review opportunities (or “missions,” as they call them).

Smiley3607. If you (like me) don’t qualify for any of the opportunities available in your dashboard, make sure you are signed up to receive notifications when new opportunities are available.

8. If you qualify for a free product testing opportunity, you’ll receive a box in the mail with the free product and an instruction card. The instruction card has details on what your mission is.

Smiley360

How Does Smiley360 Work?

Once you’ve filled out your profile and qualified for a Mission (i.e. a free product testing opportunity), you’ll receive a box in the mail with the free product and an instruction card. The instruction card has details on what your mission is.

Smiley360

For the most part the missions included:

1. Trying the product.

2. Sharing about the product and your experiences with your friends/on social media.

3. Participating in extra opportunities: entering a contest, reading more details about the product on a special site online, sharing a coupon with friends, connecting with a brand on Facebook, and so forth.

Smiley360

Is Smiley360 Worth Your Time?

Of the five boxes we got to review, I found each of the missions to be simple and straightforward, probably requiring 15 to 30 minutes of your time (at maximum) in exchange for the free product.

I thought that the free products were generous. There is at least one full-sized product, plus some extras in each box. Most products would be a value of at least $4 to $6+.

If you like trying free products and sharing about them with your friends on social media, I’d definitely encourage you to sign up to Smiley360. It’s a fun way to get to try new products in exchange for a little bit of your time.

Go sign up for Smiley360 here.

{Note: This review was underwritten by Smiley360. All opinions and thoughts are my own. Read our disclosure policy here.}

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This Week in Review: Free Starbucks, Free Adventures in Odyssey, Win a Free American Girl Doll, plus more!

American Girl Doll Giveaway

Here are some of the best deals and most popular posts from this past week:

Great Clips: Free Haircuts for Military (November 11, 2014)

Peet’s Coffee & Tea: 50% Off Coffee & Tea

Enter to Win One of 100 American Girl Samantha Dolls

Free Starbucks Drink When You Sign UP for My Starbucks Rewards

Free Adventures in Odyssey Episode Downloads

This Week's $91 Grocery Shopping Trip

This Week’s $91 Grocery Shopping Trip & Weekly Menu Plan

My ePantry.com order

My completely free order from ePantry.com!

Making Starbucks Hot Cocoa at Home

Making Starbucks Hot Cocoa at Home

My Book Stack This Week

6 Books I Hope to Read This Week

My Interview With Andy Andrews

Links Around the Web I Loved:

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ALDI Named the Nation’s Low-Price Grocery Store for the Fourth Year in a Row!

ALDI

As you well know, ALDI is hands down one of my very favorite grocery stores. I’ve sung the praises of ALDI over and over here on my blog.

A few reasons I love ALDI:

  • I love the low prices on staple ingredients — We’ve found that we’ll usually save at least $30 to $40 per week by shopping at ALDI over the regular grocery store. I love that we can consistently get low prices without having to even mess with pairing coupons with sales.
  • I love the simplicity — they only carry one brand/type of item to choose from so it streamlines my grocery shopping.
  • I love the small atmosphere — it’s so quick to get in and out of the store because it’s small. I can grab what I need,
  • I love the no-frills approach — ALDI is all about keeping the main thing, the main thing. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles, which keeps their overhead costs down significantly and allows them to keep their prices low.
  • I love the produce prices — A 3-pound bag of Gala apples for $1.99? Yes, please! I love that I can count on ALDI to always have at least 2-3 really amazing produce sales each week!

ALDI

Yes, my love for ALDI runs deep and wide! So I was excited to see that they were named the nation’s low-price grocery store for the fourth year in a row, according to a survey conducted recently.

Here’s the press release:

Batavia, Ill. – August 6, 2014 – Discount grocer ALDI was recognized as the nation’s low-price grocery leader for the fourth year in a row, according to a recent consumer survey* conducted by Market Force Information, Inc., the world’s leading customer intelligence solutions company. When asked to rank the top grocers offering low prices, consumers ranked ALDI ahead of competitors such as Costco, Walmart and Trader Joe’s. Consumers also named ALDI one of the top three favorite grocery store chains in America**.

“It’s no surprise that ALDI continues to be recognized as the low-price grocery leader,” said Jason Hart, president, ALDI. “However, these latest survey findings prove that a growing number of consumers are choosing to shop at ALDI for more than just low prices.”

In addition to remaining the low-price grocery leader, ALDI maintained a top five ranking in the categories of Good Private Label Brands, Accurate Pricing and Tags and Sustainable Environment / Green Policies. ALDI also earned top-five rankings in three new categories: Courteous Staff, Fast Checkout and Nutrition / Health information.

“Our accelerated expansion plan is a testament to the millions of shoppers who have embraced the ALDI approach to offering the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices, in a simple and easy-to-navigate shopping environment,” added Hart. “Consumers are increasingly impressed with the high quality of our food and the fact that we offer a growing number of healthy, organic, gluten-free and better-for-you options, including nearly 70 varieties of fresh produce.”

ALDI announced in December 2013 that it intends to open 650 new stores across the country in the next five years.

This just makes me happy on so many levels. I’m happy that ALDI is receiving the recognition that they deserve for having such great prices. I’m happy that this means more people are saving money. And I’m thrilled that they are opening 650 new stores.

I’m really, really hoping that some of those 650 stores are going to be opened close to some of you who don’t have an ALDI nearby!

Not familiar with ALDI or need more convincing to try shopping there? Read my post on How Shopping At ALDI Saves Us Close to $1,000 Per Year.

Are you a fan of ALDI? Why or why not?

{Note: This post was underwritten by ALDI. All opinions are my own. As you well know, I’m kind of an ALDI groupie so I was more than happy to talk about this recent survey when they approached me about writing this post. :) Read our disclosure policy here.}

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