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Our 10 Favorite Christmas Picture Books (& one of our frugal yearly traditions!)

Christmas Picture Books to read as a family! This is a unique and frugal holiday tradition the kids will LOVE!

Making memories together doesn’t have to be complicated and costly! One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to read picture books with the kids. And even though they are 11, 9, and 7, they still humor me and listen in. I think they enjoy it, too! 😉

When they were younger, we’d get a stack of books from the library, wrap up the books individually, and they’d get to unwrap one per day during December to read. (You could also turn this idea into an Advent Countdown Activity, too!)

This year, we’re skipping the wrapping part since it’s not the thrill it once was when they were younger, but we’re reading one Christmas or winter-themed picture book together every night — either after dinner at the table or right before the kids go to bed.

Our Favorite Christmas Books

Our Favorite Christmas Books

We stopped by the library earlier this week and checked out a big stack of Christmas books (our library has a limit of 30 books checked out at a time!)

I was excited to find some new-to-us library books to read this year along with some of our longtime favorites and am looking forward to making more December read-aloud memories together.

This is such a simple and frugal tradition, but it’s one we’ll probably always look back on in years to come with so many fond memories.

Our Favorite Christmas Books

Our Favorite Christmas Books

10 of our Favorite Christmas Picture Books:

What is one of your family’s favorite Christmas books? Leave a comment so I can check to see if our library has it!

I share more about this tradition here on yesterday’s YouTube video. By the way, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel for new money-saving ideas, simple recipes, and practical home management ideas every week!

More Posts to Read:

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Reader Tip: 10 Ideas to Teach Children to Give


Jennifer emailed in the following tip:

As a parent, we want our kids to be kind and generous with others, but we all know this does not come naturally to most children. So, how do we teach them to give to others when they would rather focus on their own needs and wants?

Here are a few ideas… 

  1. Lead by example (obviously listed first for a reason!)
  2. Pay them for doing chores or use an allowance system and teach them how to give, save, and spend wisely (give 10% to a church or charity, save 10%, and give 10% to missions every week).
  3. Help them think about where they would like their money to go (homeless shelter, an orphanage, missionary children, etc.)
  4. Find a specific project you can all work towards as a family (make scarves or collect food and supplies for a homeless shelter).
  5. Save money for a specific need.
  6. Do yard work for a widow or elderly neighbor.
  7. Make a meal for a shut-in or someone who is ill.
  8. Buy Christmas presents for children of military personnel or people in prison.
  9. Prepare an Operation Christmas Child box.
  10. Make birthday or Christmas cards for people in a nursing home or hospital and deliver them in person.

Don’t forget to ask you family for their ideas… and write them down. You might be surprised by some of the ideas your children think of and how excited they might be!

Do you have other ideas? Share what your family has done!

Jennifer Brannon is a wife, mom of three kids, and a former missionary kid with a passion for helping kids and their families become interested in missions. She is the author of “Missionary Kid Stories” and blogs at Families For Missions.

photo source

Simplify Your Mornings with Make-Ahead Breakfasts


Guest post from Rosanna:

My life has felt crazy busy lately… and this Fall, it got a little crazier!

Along with being a wife, mother to 3, gardener, entrepreneur, and helping with the farmette we’ve been blessed with, I gained the title of ‘teacher’ when we began homeschooling our 2nd and 3rd graders.

I knew we needed a good start to our days or they could be utter chaos… so I started with the idea of make-ahead breakfasts!

My 7 year old and I put the breakfasts together one day a week, and it is AMAZING to have homemade yummy breakfasts ready to pop in the oven or warm in the microwave or toaster as soon as we wake up in the morning!

Here’s how we prepared for our little cooking marathon:

1. Make a list of breakfast foods our family enjoys (specifically ones that can be made ahead.)

2. Make the list of groceries we’ll need and head to the store.

3. Set aside an hour or two to prep your breakfasts.

The mixes took my 7 year old merely minutes to throw together in bags.

The waffles, english muffins and bread (which I made from start to finish) took a bit longer.

Many of these recipes could actually be completely cooked and then frozen, but we prefer some things (like pancakes) made fresh, so the mixes worked great for our family!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

These are the breakfast items we made (times 4)

1. Sourdough english muffins (we eat these with poached eggs)

2. Sourdough waffles (completely cooked, and then frozen)

3. Pancake mix– we have our favorite recipe completely memorized, so all I do when I make it is add eggs, vanilla, sour cream or greek yogurt to the mix, and voila, fresh, melt in your mouth pancakes!

4. Baked oatmeal mix — add wet ingredients the night before.

5. Steel cut baked oatmeal mix — just add the wet ingredients the night before.

6. Granola — we all love it served with homemade yogurt, and fresh fruit.

7. Homemade bread — I always keep it in the freezer for french toast, eggs and toast, etc.


With just one afternoon of prep, we had approximately 20 breakfasts well on their way to being made, and it saved me SO MUCH TIME!

I am planning to do another breakfast day very soon, and invite you to consider joining me in feeding our families nutritious, hot breakfasts in a stress free way!

I live with my wonderful husband and children in beautiful Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We raise our own meat and vegetables, and I have a passion for good food:). I work from home, homeschool, and enjoy my country life! I would love to connect with you on instagram.

10 Things You Can Sell To Make Extra Cash


Guest post from Beth of Living With Beth:

Wouldn’t it be great if you could find some extra money lying around your house? You could use it to pay cash for unexpected expenses such as medical bills or big purchases such as braces or a swingset for the kids.

Fortunately, you probably already have stuff in your closets, garage, attic or basement that you could easily turn into cash.

Here are some examples of items that could be worth money.

1. Holiday Decor

Those old Christmas decorations that you no longer use could generate some cash. If you have a ceramic Christmas tree with electric lights from the 1970s or 1980s, you could sell it on eBay or Etsy during the holiday season for $75 to $100.

Unique, vintage Halloween and Easter decorations can also sell for decent bucks during the appropriate time of year. Older and unique items sell best. They don’t have to be in perfect condition, but you’ll need to take excellent photos and include accurate descriptions.

2. Power Cables and Chargers

Do you have a box of old power cables and chargers? People often need new chargers to replace ones that stop working. Each of your extra cords could fetch $10 to $20 or more.

I once sold an old laptop power cable for $15 on eBay. A few months ago, my lawn trimmer bit the dust. I trashed the trimmer and sold the power charger for $20 on Amazon.

3. Your Old Smartphone

Wireless carriers usually offer a trade-in credit for your old smartphone, but you may get more by selling it yourself on eBay or Amazon. Even if the device has problems like a broken screen or a dead battery, you might still be able to sell it on eBay for a few bucks, provided you’re upfront about the issues.

4. Home Decor

If you moved or got new furniture at some point, you might have old curtains or other home furnishings in storage — all of which could be worth cash!

Years ago, after we moved to our current home, I sold some nice curtains on eBay for around $40 and a lovely fireplace screen with tool set on Craigslist for $75.

5. Old Cameras and Electronic Equipment

A few years ago, I sold an old, non-working laptop computer on eBay for about $40. Granted, it’s not much, but it’s better than having it take up space in a closet. I removed the hard drive first and made it clear in my product description that the laptop was for parts only.

We own our own cable modem to avoid paying rent to the cable company. When I upgraded to a better modem, I listed the old one on Amazon and sold it right away for $20.

I also had a really nice 35mm Minolta camera with extra lenses and filters purchased in the late 1980s. I’d used it for many years, up until I bought my first digital camera, then it went into storage. I recently sold it on eBay for $39.95, including all of its accessories.

6. Coats and Jackets

If your family’s closets contain coats or jackets that no longer fit but are in excellent condition, they could be worth $10 to $20 or more. Vintage Levi’s denim jackets could fetch $75 to $100 on eBay.

I’ve sold new or like new jackets from Target and Walmart for $10. It might not seem like a lot, but it adds up when you start cleaning out closets and unloading this type of stuff.

7. Sports and Swim Gear

Bikes and trikes aren’t the only things that you can sell when the kids are done with them. I’ve recently sold swim flippers and floaties on eBay. You might also try selling roller blades, skateboards, baseball mitts or sets of outgrown knee and elbow pads.

8. Gift Cards

Gift cards can, in some cases, lose value over time or even become worthless if the store or company goes belly-up. If you can’t use a gift card right away, there’s a good chance you’ll never use it. You may as well sell it on eBay rather than see it go to waste.

9. Unused Gifts

A couple of months ago, I decided to get rid of a silver plated serving tray with lid which had been a wedding gift. I had never used it and couldn’t think of any occasion when I would need it. I polished it to remove the tarnish and sold it for $21 on eBay.

10. Old Music CDs

Alas, most of your music CDs collected from past decades are worthless. However, some of them still have value.

A few weeks ago, I went through more than 150 CDs from boxes in the garage. I scanned them using the free Amazon Seller smartphone app to find out what they were fetching.

Roughly 10 percent of them were selling for $5 or more, which was my threshold for whether I’d list them for sale. The very next morning, one had already sold for just under $20.

A few more have sold since then, and I still have many for sale. My CDs will stay listed on Amazon until they either sell or I remove them. Amazon doesn’t charge anything to list items. They take a percentage of the sales price after the item sells.

A CD is most likely to sell if it contains some sort of unusual compilation of songs, such as music from TV shows, or if it’s a soundtrack from an obscure movie or a popular theatrical show from the 1990s or 1980s.

How About You?

What other items would you add to this list?

Beth McIntire is a writer and technology professional. She blogs at Living With Beth, and is the author of the book, “The Ultimate Guide to Getting the Most Cash for Your Stuff.”

photo source

Gretchen’s CVS Shopping Trip: Spent $1.71 out of pocket!


CVS Shopping Trip

I haven’t been to CVS in a while but this week is one of my favorite weeks to shop there and after I went, I realized how much I’ve missed it. I plan on going back for the Black Friday freebies as well. 🙂

Transaction #1

2 Ocean Spray Juice – 2/$3 (Buy 2, Get $3 ECBs)

1 can Green Giant Green Beans – $0.99 (Buy 1, Get $0.99 ECBs)

1 Colgate Total Toothpaste – $3
Used $0.50/1 printable
And used $2.50/1 CVS coupon from the in-store coupon machine

Used $5 ECBs I earned from downloading the CVS app on my phone

Total: Free, plus received $3.99 ECBs

Transaction #2

2 pkgs Oreos – $0.99 each (I needed these for my son’s birthday cake I’m making this weekend and this was the best price around town.)
Used $1.15/2 Checkout 51 rebate

1 Purex Laundry Detergent – $1.88

1 Opti-Free Contact Lens Solution – $7.99 (Buy 1, Get $2 ECBs)
Used $5/1 printable

Used $3.99 ECBs from Transaction #1

Total after coupon, ECBs and rebate: $1.71, plus received $2 ECBs

Total for both transactions before coupons, ECBs and rebate: $18.84

Total for both transactions after coupons, ECBs and rebate: $1.71 plus $2 ECBs leftover