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A Peek Into My Life This Week

Welcome to my weekly Sunday post where we take a break from money-related posts and I share about what I’m loving right now and give you a little peek into our life from the past week.

What I’m Celebrating

A year ago, this girl was incredibly socially awkward. And it broke my heart. She has such a beautiful heart to serve and pour into others and to see her be so anxious and clam up almost any time she was with kids her age just about did me in — especially because she was then the one who got picked on, overlooked, and/or made fun of.

We had many a long talk over her social anxiety and how she felt so lonely and left out. We tried putting her different social situations to give her opportunities to grow and learn to reach out and build genuine relationships, but each time, it ended in tears, stress, and fear over having to face kids her age again.

She began avoiding kids her age as much as she could. We saw her closing up more and more and felt at a loss to know how to help her break out of her fear and anxiety. We prayed. We encouraged her with new ideas. We kept trying new approaches.

Nothing worked.

One day, as I was crying out to God for wisdom, I felt this strong nudge that the best decision would be to put her in school instead of homeschooling. It felt like a crazy idea as I always assumed we would homeschool through high school.

I loved homeschooling and couldn’t really bear the thought of giving it up. But I told Jesse this “bizarre” idea and he looked at me and said, “I can’t believe it! I’ve been feeling the exact same way!!”

With much prayer, many tears, and much research, we made the decision to put her in a small Classical School. She was devastated when we broke the news to her. And my mama heart was torn up in pieces knowing how terrifying it was for her.

But she did it. She showed up scared. Knowing how intense her social anxiety was, I knew the insane amount of bravery it required.

And she kept showing up. On Friday, as we celebrated her birthday date together, she told me, “I can’t believe how much I’ve changed this year! I actually have friends. Real friends. And they are coming over to my house to hang out with me tomorrow! I can’t believe it! I had no idea that facing my fears & going to school would mean I would I gain so many friends!”

God is so good. So good. (Shared with Kathrynne’s permission.)

What I’m Watching

This week, I watched my friend Lisa-Jo’s Scream-Free Mornings video. There was a lot of great material packed into the short video. And the PDF download that came with it was GOLD. Go sign up for this free video and PDF here.

By the way, Lisa-Jo has a brand-new course coming out with tools and tactics for moms who struggle with their temper. I cannot WAIT to go through it because I always need wise advice and encouragement in this area. As I’ve told you before, I have struggled with yelling at my kids.

It’s something I wish I didn’t struggle with. I wish I could be the mom who could say, “I never yell at my kids!” But that’s not me. I’m the girl, instead, who has struggled with anger ever since I was a child.

It’s one of the things I wish I could hide and pretend didn’t exist. But it’s also something that has caused me to need Jesus so much, to have opportunities to humble myself and ask for forgiveness when I fail, and to look for resources to help me tame my temper.

Which is why I’m so thrilled that Lisa-Jo has put this video course together. I will be eating up her every word! (Sign up for the free video and you’ll be notified when her course is live in a few days!)

This week, we discovered the new show Hunted and we loved the first two episodes. It’s about 16 people who attempt to go off the grid while being hunted as “they attempt the nearly impossible task of disappearing in today’s vast digital world as highly skilled investigators combine state-of-the-art tracking methods with traditional tactics to pursue and catch them.”

Jesse and I watched the first episode and enjoyed it so much that we had the kids watch both episodes with us. So far, there has been very little language and it’s been a great show for us to watch together as a family.

{Note: This show might be really scary or inappropriate for some children, depending upon their personalities and sensitivities. As always, I encourage parents to watch shows first, if you have any doubt whether it’s something that would be appropriate for your own children as all children have different sensitivity levels. Our kids happen to love shows like this, so we’re hoping that the season continues to be family-friendly and appropriate!}

We also watched the newest episode of Timeless. I’ve surprised myself by really enjoying this show! Note: This show is definitely on the PG-13 level based upon the content and language.

Also, a note on Poldark: We decided not to continue watching it past Season 2, Episode 7 after some warnings from you all. We looked at the reviews and we don’t see that any sort of redemptive story came in Season 2, so it just didn’t seem worth continuing. I was so sad, because I loved the show. But it’s not worth watching if it’s just going to get darker and there’s no redemption.

I still wholeheartedly love Poldark Season 1 and would recommend it. Note: This is not a show we’ve let our kids watch because of some of the content and topics.

What I’m Listening To

I loved the Sorta Awesome Show with guest host Meredith Schwartz of Penelope Loves Lists. Even though I’m not a total Penelope as she described on the show, more and more I’ve come to realize that I’m someone who tends to be naturally organized.

I don’t have to work really hard to set up systems to keep my home organized or clutter-free or to keep my work and life organized. It’s honestly something that I just do because, well, I’ve always just thought, “Isn’t it just easier to be organized?”

Over the years, I’ve come to learn that not everyone is the same way. Not everyone sees the messes or the clutter like I do and some people have to work at it a lot harder.

Understanding the way that I’m wired and the way that others are wired helps me to have more grace for myself (Telling myself things like, “It’s okay to let the dishes sit in the sink every once in awhile! You’re not failing when you do that!”) and more grace for others (Telling myself things like, “They aren’t trying to be difficult or lazy. They just have a different personality and different priorities than you! And there’s a lot you can learn from them!”)

I really enjoyed this episode of the Sorta Awesome show because I resonated with so much of it and I realized that I’m more relaxed about being organized than some people are and I can celebrate exactly how God has made me, but I can also work on those parts of my personality that need some fine-tuning! 🙂

What I’m Reading

I finished Megyn Kelly’s book, Settle for More, this past week and really, really enjoyed it. There is quite a bit of strong language in it and there were parts I didn’t agree with, but I thought it was well-written and very thought-provoking.

I know that this is a year when people are very divided politically and I’m almost scared to even admit I loved this book — lest someone assume I’m siding with a particular person or party by saying that. Please know that that’s not what this book was about.

If you haven’t read it and you’re at all interested in politics or journalism or how a woman in a high profile position is balancing work and family or topics related to feminism and women’s rights, I think that you’ll find this book interesting and insightful — even if you heartily disagree with it.

I’m of the opinion that we should read things from differing viewpoints to help sharpen our beliefs, expand our thinking, and know what people who are very different than us believe. This is one reason why I’ve chosen that one of my main news sources for right now is actually from a much different side of the aisle than I would typically be on — because I don’t want to just listen to people who think like me tell me their opinion or viewpoint about current events and issues.

I want to know what people who come from very different backgrounds and belief systems think, too, and how they came to those beliefs. Not so I can bash them, but so I can seek to understand.

Anyway, all that to say, while I think Megyn Kelly and I would probably land very differently on many issues, I really was inspired by reading this book and hearing more about her life and her core values and principles.

I also read Everyday Wellness by Nina Nelson (it looks like it’s no longer available anywhere online — I got the download as part of one of the Ultimate Bundles – this book looks like it’s similar to the ebook, but it’s no longer in print) and Chaos to Clutter-Free.

How I’m Getting in More Reading Time

I’ve been upping my running time in the past two weeks, which means I can get in some reading while running on the treadmill! I’m thrilled about that because it means I can start going through all these ebooks I’ve gotten as part of the Ultimate Bundles!

This week, I’m planning to read some of the Conquer Your Clutter Bundle ebooks:

Have you gotten your Conquer Your Clutter bundle yet? If not, go check it out here. It’s on available through January 30, 2017 and it’s packed with lots of great resources to help you get your home and life in order.

This week, I’m reading: Answers to Prayer (an old Christian reprint), Be Real (a spiritually encouraging book), Hope in Front of Me (a story-driven book), and Thirty Chic Days (a book on life improvement).

I’m hoping to finish Hope in Front of MeBe Real, and Thirty Chic Days this week plus the ebooks listed above. I’ll let you know how that goes next week! {See my Reading Goals for 2017. Also, see the 11 books I’ve read so far in 2017 here.}

What I’m Thinking About

You know what I recently realized? I rarely accept compliments. I almost always make some excuse or give some explanation as to why I’m not really worthy of receiving that compliment.

For instance, someone will say, “I love your hair today!” And I’ll respond, “Oh this look? Ha! I need to wash my hair so badly! I just threw it into this real quick today because I was frustrated with it!”

Or, someone will say, “I love your outfit!” And I’ll say something like, “Really?? Um, I was rushing out the door and just grabbed something! I don’t really like it!” Or a thousand other similar variations.

You want to know the person I’m the worst at this with? My husband. I pretty much always excuse or invalidate his compliment by my response. It’s sad, but true.

Why do I do this? Why do I try to convince people by my responses that their kind compliment wasn’t valid? Why do I try to explain away or justify or excuse or put down myself?

If someone were to give me a gift, I wouldn’t try to explain to them why it was a bad gift or not appropriate for me. That would be rude! But yet, when you think of it, a compliment is a gift, too.

So I’m committed to stop excusing and invalidating others’ kind words and instead start responding with a simple, “Thank you!” When someone is kind enough to give me a compliment, I want to be genuinely grateful for their graciousness. Especially when it’s a compliment from my husband!

Have you ever done this before? Do you have any insight as to why I might do this? I’m still processing it myself and would love your input if this is something you struggle with, too. (The inspiration for this came from the book, The Year of Yes.)

In Case You Missed It (my posts from this past week):

What are YOU celebrating, reading, listening to, watching, or thinking about? I’d love to hear!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

5 Ways We Save on Propane

Guest post from Ruth:

I live in Michigan and heating is our biggest utility expense… particularly because we live in the country and use propane. Our stove, furnace, and hot water heater all run off of propane, and as you can imagine, refilling our 500 gallon tank is pricey!

Our propane bill has been very stressful for us over the years –our propane provider has a minimum fill requirement of 250 gallons, the prices weren’t always good, so we tried to wait as long as we possibly could to fill our tank, and we still ended up spending serious money for each fill.

Now, thanks to some modifications, we not only save money on propane, but we don’t stress over paying the large bill.

Here’s some of the modifications that we made:

1. We now have a written budget every month.

We have two savings accounts, one is designated as our Emergency Fund and one is our Irregular Expense Fund. Each month, a designated contribution is put into our Irregular Expense Fund. By looking at propane usage from prior years, we are able to make an educated guess on an appropriate monthly amount to save.

Now when we need to fill up the propane tank, we just do it and don’t need to worry about how to pay for it. We transfer the money from our Irregular Savings Fund to our checking account and use our debit card for the fill.

2. We switched propane companies.

Not all propane companies are equal… and after one particularly cold winter, we chose a new company that better met our needs.

Our new company offers a price protection plan called a “Price Cap” program. We pay $50 to be enrolled for this program, and we then have a written guarantee that our price will not exceed a certain point. If the actual price per gallon is below our capped price, we pay the actual price.

Our capped price is a little over $1.50 per gallon this season, but I just filled up and paid only $1.40 per gallon.

Their price protection secret was that they bought large amounts of propane inexpensively during the off season and stored it for later use in off site storage.

We’ve found that picking a company with simple common sense ways of controlling the price saves our money and lowers our stress level greatly.

3. We watch prices.

We try to fill up when the prices are good, rather than when we need propane. Pricing is best in the summer, and this past summer, prices got down around $1 per gallon. We went ahead and filled up then, which lasted for several months.

4. We seal up air leaks, when we can.

We noticed cold air was leaking through the front door, so we purchased cheap weather stripping and were able to drastically decrease the cold air coming in. It might not sound like much, but it can add up to big savings.

5. We use a programmable thermostat.

The temperature automatically lowers when we leave the house and while we’re sleeping — saving a significant amount of propane (and money!)

Heating is a large expense for those of us who live in the Northern part of the country. But thankfully, there are ways to make it more manageable.

Ruth is a homeschooling mom of 3 kids, ages 10, 7, and 4.

photo source

Why I Changed My Mind About Hiring a Cleaning Service

“Honey, I really think we should consider hiring a cleaning service, “ Jesse gently suggested one day when I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with three kids, homeschooling, and running this blogging gig that had turned into an almost full-time thing.

It was about 6 years ago, we had paid cash for our first home, our businesses were doing well, we had no debt, we were in a great place financially, and we totally had the wiggle room in our budget to pay for a cleaning service.

But I was aghast!

“Pay for a cleaning service?!?!?” I quickly responded back. “Do you know how extravagant that would seem to everyone who knows me as Money-Saving Mom???”

I went on, “Absolutely not! I just couldn’t. I just don’t feel like I could spend money having someone clean my house! That just feels entitled and wasteful!”

So he let the matter rest. Because he’s a smart man like that. 😉

Every once in awhile — especially on days when I was bemoaning that I didn’t have time to mop the kitchen floor or deep clean the bathrooms yet again — he’d bring it up and remind me that we should just try it. That it wouldn’t hurt to try one time.

But I was adamant. It was NOT happening.

Then, one week, I found myself up-to-my eyeballs in to-do’s, because in addition to the normal work and life stuff, I was hosting a wedding shower for around 90 people at our house (Yes! 90 people!)

Jesse brought up the idea of just paying for a cleaning service to come in the day before the shower because I really didn’t have time to clean the house from top to bottom — unless I wanted to give up sleep the night before the shower.

I acquiesced… but “only this one time!” I said.

Um, well, that one time of paying for a cleaning service to come completely changed my life.

It was incredible! Amazing! Unbelievable!

Yes, I ate crow… and had to tell Jesse that he was right and I was sorry I had been stubborn for so long. Because having a a team come in and clean our house from top to bottom and save me hours of time was pretty much the best thing since, well, maybe blogging was invented! 🙂

From that day on, I’ve become a staunch believer in cleaning services and the value they provide — especially if you’re in a place where you have a good income and you don’t have a lot of extra margin time in your life.

To have people come into our home every week and sweep and mop all of our floors, deep clean our kitchen, deep clean our bathrooms, change all of our sheets, vacuum all of our furniture, clean all the mirrors and glass, clean our microwave, wipe down all the surfaces, and leave our home looking spotless and smelling so clean, is just downright priceless.

Here are four of the main reasons hiring a cleaning service has benefitted our life:

1. It Saves Me Time

I calculate that having a cleaning service come in every week for 1 1/2 to 2 hours saves me at least 5-6 hours per week of cleaning. My time is valuable these days — especially as a full-time working mom — so the cost versus the time it saves has been incredibly worth it for me in this season.

2. It Saves Me Stress

I know that I’m happier and calmer when my home is organized and clean. That’s my personality and I can’t change it! So not having to stress about when I’m going to find time to mop the floors or to deep clean the shower and tub is a big load off of my shoulders.

3. It Helps Us Maintain a Clutter-Free Environment

When you have cleaners come in, you are motivated to keep things much more straightened up and clutter-free so that it’s easier for them to clean and the final result looks much better (it’s hard for them to get a lot of cleaning done if there are piles everywhere!)

I’ve also found that even if our home gets a little messy throughout the week and we skip some of our daily quick whole house pick-ups because of a full schedule, we always make sure that it’s completely picked up on Thursdays when the cleaners come. This means that things never get out of control, overwhelming, or unmanageable.

4. It Gives Us More Time as a Family

Instead of having to spend an hour deep cleaning every day (like I used to), we can just make the beds, do the laundry, pick up the house, sweep the kitchen floor, empty the trashes, and clean the kitchen and the house stays really clean looking almost all the time. We divvy up these household chores every day, so none of us rarely spend more than 30 minutes to an hour on chores. Which means we have more time to spend together as a family — in a clean house!

I believe that wise management of money is not about being as frugal as you can possibly be. Rather, it’s about using your resources wisely in order to enhance your life and live out your family’s mission and purpose. 

For a long time, I fought against hiring a cleaning service because I felt like it was extravagant and costly. What I didn’t realize is that the benefits of more time with my family and less stress in my life would add much more richly to my life than the actual costs of the weekly service.

I’m trying to remember this — especially as someone who is usually so frugal — in all areas of my life. I want to count not just the costs but also the benefits when weighing any change in our budget. It’s so easy for those of us who like to save every penny we can to forget that it’s not worth it to save money if it means we’re losing our sanity in the process.

Now I admit, I’m a little scared of putting this post out on the internet. I know that it’s a bit of a controversial subject and that not everyone will probably love this post. Some of you might even be bothered enough that you feel like I’m not someone you want to follow any more.

I get that. And that’s why I thought long and hard before posting it.

I know many of you aren’t in a place to be able to afford a cleaning service and it could feel frustrating to you. Or, you can’t understand why someone would want to hire a cleaning service because you love cleaning.

But I am sharing it today because I have a feeling that there are some of you who might be inspired by my story to reconsider a purchase or another expenditure in your budget that maybe you’ve been resisting because it feels like it’s “not what a frugal person would do or buy or pay for.”

Can I just gently encourage you — like my husband did — that if you can afford something and if it will make a really positive impact in your life and is in line with your family’s goals and mission, that it’s okay to go for it — even if it feels downright extravagant?

Give yourself permission to try it. Who knows? It just might be the thing that makes a massive difference in your home and family!

I know this for sure, the next time my husband gently encourages me to consider an idea, I’m going to actually listen the first time around and try to at least consider it — instead of just instantly pushing back and saying, “That’s too extravagant!”

P.S. Can’t afford a cleaning service, but looking for some step-by-step help to get your house in order? Check out this amazing bundle of resources. I’ve been reading some of them over the past few days while running on the treadmill and they are packed with great ideas, inspiration, and loads of hands-on help!

photo credit

Brigette’s $56 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan for 6


2 24-oz jars Pasta Sauce – $2.38

2 cartons Strawberries – $3.58

1 bag frozen Peas – $0.95

2 cans Biscuits – $1.98

2 heads Cauliflower – $4.58

1 pkg Zucchini – $2.49

3 cartons Blackberries – $2.97

3 cartons Blueberries – $3.87

1 pint Grape Tomatoes – $1.29

1 bunch Bananas (2.32lb @ $0.10/lb) – $0.23

2 16-oz cartons Egg Whites – $3.98

2 cans Green Beans – $0.98

1 3-lb bag Pink Lady Apples – $2.99

1 box Honey Crunch Oats – $1.49

1 box Raisin Bran – $1.79

2 cartons Orange Juice – $3.38

2 gallons Whole Milk – $4.58

4 dozen Eggs – $3.56

Total: $47.07


Harris Teeter

1 tub Betty Crocker Frosting – $2.29

1 Ready to Serve Minute Rice – $1.50, used $0.50/1 Minute Rice Product – 1-22-17 SS (exp 03/18/17) (doubled) – $0.49 after coupon

2 boxes Super Pretzel – $3.99, used 2 $0.75/1 printable (doubled), plus receive $0.75 rebate from Ibotta – $0.24/2 after coupons and rebate

4 boxes Muellers Pasta – $3.20, used 2 $0.50/2 printable (doubled), plus receive $0.25 rebate from Ibotta – $0.95/4 boxes after coupons and rebate

2 24-oz tubs Harris Teeter Cottage Cheese (B1G1) – $3.49

1 bag McCain Sweet Potato Fries – $2.00, used $0.55/1 McCain product, SS 12/11 (doubled) – $0.90 after coupon

1 4-pk GoGo Squeez – $1.49, used $1/1 GoGo Squeez, exp. 3/5/17 (SS 01/08/17) – $0.49 after coupon

1 box Barber Chicken – $2.79, used $1.50/1 Barber Food Product – 12-4-16 SS (exp 01/28/17), plus receive $1.00 rebate from Checkout 51 – $0.29 after coupon

2 boxes Quaker Snackwich – $2.65, receive $2.00 rebate from Checkout 51 – $0.65/2 boxes

Total: $9.79

Grocery Total for the Week: $56.86

Weekly Menu Plan


Cereal x 2

Oatmeal x 2

Fried Egg Sandwiches, Fruit Salad x 2

Monkey Bread, Hard-Boiled Eggs (Birthday Breakfast of Choice for my 6-yr old)


Baked-Potato-Bar (Potatoes, Cottage Cheese, Shredded Cheese, Butter, Broccoli), Apples x 2

Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks, Fruit

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Chips, Broccoli, Berries (Birthday Lunch)

Leftovers x 3


Venison Roast in the Crockpot, Garlic Mashed Cauliflower, Green Beans, Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Grilled Asian Chicken (my store was out of fresh ginger root, so I’ll have to sub powdered ginger this week), Jasmine Rice, Peas

Hamburger Vegetable Soup, Easy Whole Wheat Bread

Ham and Potato Soup, Pumpkin Dinner Rolls, Tossed Salad

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza and Breadsticks, Strawberry Cake (birthday dinner)

Leftovers x 2

DIY Valentine’s Day Slime

This DIY Valentine's Day Slime is such a fun gift idea! And it's SUPER easy for kids to make!

Looking for a fun and unique Valentine’s Day gift to give out? How about Valentine’s Day Slime?

Slime is so easy and fun to make — and there are hundreds of variations for it! Yesterday, my daughter Kaitlynn and I gave you the step-by-step instructions on how to make it. Today, we’re back with some ideas on how to package it to gift it for Valentine’s Day.

Like I said yesterday, slime is taking the grade school world by storm. But I don’t think slime is just for kids. I love playing with it, too.

Making slime and playing with it is a fun — and pretty frugal — activity that you can do with your kids. And it’s such a fun gift to give to others. Kaitlynn has given it to many friends at school in her class (4th grade).

The funny thing is, the older kids in Kathrynne’s class (6th grade) have been asking if she’d make some for them and they’d pay her for it! So she ended up starting a little “business” selling it for $2 per container — made to order!

(She’s definitely quite the little entrepreneur! She buys all of the supplies herself, prices out where to get the best deals, and then figures out the cost per container so that she makes sure she is turning a profit!)

To make the slime, refer to my post here for the step-by-step instructions and pictures (or watch the video below where Kaitlynn shows you how to make it). For Valentine’s Day slime, use red or pink food coloring. You can knead in glitter or hearts to it, too, for extra bling.

Then package it in airtight containers. You could use plastic containers shown above (we got ours from Amazon) or ziptop plastic bags.

We went to the Dollar Section at Target and found all sorts of fun decorations to package up the slime. You could also check the dollar store — one of my favorite places to get really inexpensive gift packaging, gift wrap, and gift tags.

Free Printable Slime Valentine’s Day Tags

I went and looked for some free printable Valentine’s slime tags and the internet didn’t fail me. Here are three of my favorites…

Slime Yours (free printable tag) from Twin Dragonfly Designs

Have a Gooed Valentine’s Day (free printable tag) from The Gunny Sack

Will You Be My Valen-Slime? (free printable tag) from Skip to My Lou

If you like the slime idea, but don’t want to mess with making it yourself, we found these cute Valentines in the dollar section at Target — which my kids were so excited about (they tore into them before I could get a picture for this post, as evidenced above!)

How to Make Homemade Slime

This homemade slime recipe is SO easy for kids to make! It's fun to make, provides hours of entertainment afterwards, and even makes a great gift idea!

Kaitlynn has been making batches and batches of Homemade Slime recently. This stuff is so fun to play with, it makes great gifts (kids have been begging her to make it for them!), and it’s really popular right now.

She recorded a Facebook Live video with me a few weeks ago about how to make Homemade Slime and so many of you asked for the recipe. So she helped me put together this post for you all today on how to make Homemade Slime.

If you’ve never made this before, you have to try it! It’s SO cool and kids of all ages (and adults!) love playing with it. It’s great for stress relief and for kids who have trouble concentrating if their hands aren’t busy.

Jesse and I have fun playing with it with the kids and seeing who can make the biggest slime bubble that pops the loudest (does that mean we are kids at heart or just weird??!)

To make homemade slime, start by making Slime Activator.

To make this, add one teaspoon borax powder to one cup HOT water. Stir until dissolved. Set aside.

(You can keep this for a few weeks in an airtight container if you are planning to make multiple batches of Homemade Slime.)

Now add one-fourth a cup of glue, shaving cream, foaming hand soap, and a few squirts of liquid hand soap to the bowl. Mix well.

Then, add 2-8 drops of food coloring (optional) to make the slime whatever color you’d like. Kaitlynn has made all sorts of fun colors.

Then, add one teaspoon of Slime Activator (see above) at a time until slime forms into a ball in the bowl.

Once your slime has formed, take it out of the bowl and start kneading it. If your slime is too sticky, add more Slime Activator. However, be sure not to add too much or it will start hardening.

If you’d like your slime to be more stretchy, you can add a little body lotion and knead it in until you get it to your desired stretchiness. You can add more, if you’d like.

When not in use, be sure to store Homemade Slime in an airtight container. Otherwise, it will dry out.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post when Kaitlynn and I share ways to use Homemade Slime to give as Valentine’s gifts or to make Homemade Valentine’s!