A Red, White & Blue Celebration for Less

If you have followed my blog for even a short amount of time then you are aware that I am a big Dollar Tree fan. The Dollar Tree is definitely my go-to-spot for birthday party supplies. If you are planning any sort of party or event it really is a great money-saving option. With Memorial Day and 4th of July right around the corner, the Dollar Tree’s patriotic party supplies are a great choice for your own red, white and blue celebration!

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**I was compensated for this post. This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.**

Here are some of the patriotic party supplies you can find at your local Dollar Tree:

Decorations

You can quickly and affordably decorate any space with wall decorations, table centerpieces, banners, balloons, pinwheels, decorative bows, LED lights, and so much more. It only takes a few items at a great price to bring some festive red, white and blue to your party space.

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Paper Goods

You can find any and all paper goods needed to serve up tasty treats for your guests. You can mix up the red, white and blue or choose from various patterned prints. At the Dollar Tree you can find: napkins, cups, plates, bowls, silver ware and more. You can’t beat $1 when it comes to getting your red, white and blue party goods.

Accessories

How fun to be able to wear patriotic flip flops as you host your party! You can even pass out a few wearable goodies to your party guests including: sunglasses, bandanas, leis, headbands, hats and more.

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If you can’t find what you are looking for in your local store, check online!! You can even choose to have the items shipped free to your store.

Throwing a party or hosting a get-together can be done easily without too much hassle or money. All it takes is a quick trip to the Dollar Tree, and you’ll be on your way to hosting your red, white and blue celebration!

What about you? What party supplies do you like to get from the Dollar Tree? I would love to hear from you, so leave me a comment below.

Until next time,
Charissa

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My Photo of the Week

“If you’re always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you are in?”

~Unknown

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Each Friday I do our weekly grocery shopping trip which makes for a long shopping trip. Each week I take my four year old which makes for a really long shopping trip.

You know what? I am learning to let go of the need to race and rush through these weekly trips. I don’t want to spend my time in the store worrying about how long the trip is taking. I don’t want to ignore my child and blow through the aisles.

I have found our Friday shopping trips to be a great time of being together. My daughter helps me find items and places them in the cart.  Sometimes she pushes the cart. She sings songs. She makes other shoppers smile. We chat a lot and make our way through the store having a fun time doing a mundane task.

These are the simple, ordinary moments I hope she (and I) remember for years to come.

What about you? How are you keeping yourself from racing through the moments of life? I would love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a comment below!

For more Photo of the Week posts click here.

Until next time,

Charissa

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5 Items You Should Bring on Your Next Hotel Stay

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Last weekend I was able to get away for 2 nights with some of my longtime friends. It was such a gift to be able to have this time away, and it provided much needed relaxation, refreshment, and rest.

We stayed at a great hotel and appreciated our simple, clean accommodations. After the weekend I was thinking about that particular hotel stay and hotel stays, in general. I pack (and sometimes over-pack) thinking I know just what I need. Sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I realize I forgot something that would have been very helpful. Packing can sometimes be a bit of a guessing game, but I think there are some “should bring” items that might be a little unexpected.

Today I am sharing the 5 items you should bring on your next hotel stay.

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(This post contains affiliate links, so thenotsobusymom receives a very small commission if you make a purchase through the links.)

Hand soap

Most hotels supply a few toiletries including soap, but it is always bar soap. Washing my hands with bar soap is really not my favorite, and every time I stay at a hotel I think about my hand soap back home. So, the next time you head to a hotel, run into the Dollar Tree first, and buy yourself some inexpensive hand soap.

Flip flops

There was a pool at our hotel, and flip flops really are the best shoe for time at the pool. Flip flops are also great for sliding on when walking to the vending machine or making a quick trip down to the front desk. Flip flops are easy to toss in your bag and come in handy when you need to throw something on your feet.

Steamer

Yes, most hotels have irons and ironing boards, but I find that whole process somewhat tedious. I am not a fan of ironing when I am at home, and I don’t enjoy doing it while I am away. A steamer is a much easier way to rid your clothing of all those crazy wrinkles that occur when your items are stuffed in your suitcase or bag. There are plenty of mini-steamers that can easily be packed with all your other belongings.

Laundry bag

By the end of your trip (whether 2 nights or 1 week) you will have a small (or large) pile of dirty clothes. I have a hard time shoving my dirty clothes into my bag with all the unused, clean clothes. A laundry bag is a simple solution. If you don’t want to purchase one, you can always just choose the frugal option, and grab a garbage bag from home. I also find that coming home with a laundry bag of dirty clothes makes unpacking much easier. Just throw the bag of clothes right into the washing machine, and put everything else away.

Cash for tips

I have worked at a B & B every summer since I was in high school, and I know housekeepers work hard to clean your room and give you your needed supplies. A tip is a great way to thank them for their service. It doesn’t have to be much, but it is always appreciated. You might also need tip money for room service or maybe just cash for the vending machine.

Those are my 5 “should haves” for your (or my) next hotel stay! They are simple items but very helpful in making for an even nicer get-away!

What about you? What items do you think are necessities when staying at a hotel? I would love to hear your ideas, so drop me a comment!

Until next time,
Charissa

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When a Busy Season becomes a Busy Life

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“It’s been a busy season.”

“What a busy season!!”

“Sorry, it’s been such a busy season.”

“We’re just coming out of a really busy season.”

These are all things you have probably heard people say or perhaps you have said them.

I would define a “busy season” as a period of time that is marked by a greater-than-normal number of activities and/or events. It’s definitely a term that is thrown around a lot. The term is probably used correctly, but it tends to lose its meaning when used frequently.

You see, a busy season is supposed to be a period of time, but it seems as though these periods of time are becoming longer and longer and merging into one another.

I just recently heard a mom talk about the craziness of the spring and stopped to consider her words. I was very curious to hear why she ultimately referred to the spring as “crazy busy”.  She went on to describe the increase in activities, invites, and events at the end of the school year. Everything she said did reflect a crazy time of the year, but I had to pause and wonder…

What about the fall? Don’t people consider the fall, the start of the school year, busy?

What about the months leading up to the holidays? Those are crazy. Right?

Oh, yes, and then the actual holidays, those are definitely busy. That’s what everyone says.

Then there are those few months after the holiday season. Can we call those “less busy”? Maybe.

Oh, now we’re back to spring. Crazyville.

Summer. That’s a slow time. Right?…I think so. I hope so.

Then when digging deeper we realize that we often call life with little ones a busy season. When our kids start going to school we enter another busy season. Life with teenagers is often labeled as busy.

Do you see? One busy season quickly leads to another.

There have been and will be busy seasons in life (although it’s not something I’m aiming for). I just don’t want one busy season to lead to a bunch of busy seasons which leads to an overall busy life. I do not want to get to the end of my life, look back, and remember my life as busy.

If you feel like every season of life is a busy season then I believe you have 2 choices: 1) Stop the craziness (aka the busyness) or 2) Stop calling everything you do “busy”. Life is full of events and activities, people and projects, opportunities to serve and needs to meet. We don’t have to label it all as busy. Sometimes we call busy that which is simply life.

Make sure your next busy season doesn’t morph into a busy year and before you know it a busy life. Live your life, to the full, but don’t forget to let go of some of that busy.

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What about you? What are you doing to make sure your busy seasons remain for just a season? I would love to hear from you, so leave me a comment below!!

Until next time,
Charissa

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10 Ways for Kids to Enjoy a Rainy Day

We have had many rainy days this spring which means plenty of time indoors. I can appreciate the rainy days as an adult, but children can sometimes get a bit antsy when cooped up (especially when there is a long stretch of gray, wet days). If you’re looking for a little rainy day inspiration, keep reading!

Today I am sharing 10 ways for kids to enjoy a rainy day.

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(This post contains affiliate links, so thenotsobusymom receives a very small commission if you make a purchase through the links.)

  1. Create an Art Gallery

Gather your kids around the kitchen table, pull out various art supplies, and let the creative juices flow. My children love to listen to music while they work on their art. I find that even my more reluctant artist is focused and content when enjoying a little background music. After completing their work, the children can display it in a room, and this becomes the art gallery. My children will usually make one of the bedrooms the gallery, and then invite people to come view (and even purchase) their pictures. The “visitors” are usually just my husband and/or me, but they are always delighted to have us see what they have created and displayed. They are also happy to take our money!

2. Listen to an Audio Book

I have shared my love for audio books when it comes to ending car squabbles. Audio books are also a good option for a rainy day. Have your children gather blankets and pillows to cozy-up while listening to a delightful story. My children will sometimes build with their LEGOs or maybe even create art (see idea #1) while enjoying an audio book. The options for books are endless, but some of our favorite listens include anything by Beverly Cleary.

3. Put Together a Puzzle

Puzzles are a great brain workout! Puzzles are a good option because you can find one to meet the skill level of whoever is in your home. We have a basket of puzzles, and I like to keep them in the attic, and then pull them out unexpectedly (like on a rainy day). A little background music or audio book (see #2) while completing the puzzle makes the process even more enjoyable.

4. Have a Dance Party

My kids love to dance, so they are always super excited when we say “let’s have a dance party”! Rainy days are a great excuse for a dance party. Play their favorite songs, and let them show off their new moves. Watching my kids dance is pure entertainment. They are also most delighted when Mom & Dad join the fun! Dancing gets their hearts pumping and puts a smile on everyone’s face.

5. Read & Write Poetry

Use the weather to inspire a little reading and writing. I love sharing poems with my children. Most kids love the poetry found in Shel Silverstein’s books, so begin by reading something by him or whoever you find inspiring and delightful. Then encourage your children to become poets. They could even compile their pieces into one book adding a cover and illustrations.

6. Bake Something

Invite your kids into the kitchen to bake a tasty treat. I think chocolate chip cookies or banana muffins are some of the easiest and tastiest options. Baking is a great way to spend time together, and it’s also beneficial for developing reading and math skills. Take your activity one step further by sharing some of your goodies with a neighbor or friend. We often like to bring extra baked goods to our neighbors, and they are always very appreciative of the gesture.

7. Make Time for Design

Kids love to build and design. They can take opportunity for even more of that on a rainy day. LEGOs are always a good option as is something like Magna Tiles or Brain Flakes (which are a big favorite of my children). Old cardboard boxes and other recycling materials also make for great design materials. If there is space to display their designs, then let that happen for the day. If space is tight (or they want their creation to remain for weeks), take a picture. My children are always very eager to have a photo taken of whatever they create.

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8. Go on a Scavenger Hunt

Kids love a scavenger hunt! It doesn’t have to be complicated (unless you want it to be), and if you have an older child, they might enjoy creating it for younger siblings. Create clues that lead them throughout the house on the hunt for a final prize. The final prize can be something as simple as a special snack (see #6) or perhaps a mug of hot chocolate. It gets them moving, reading, and working together!

9. Play Board Games or Card Games

The options for board games and card games are endless. Again, I like to keep many of ours in the attic, and then pull them out on a rainy day. An “old” game becomes “new” when a child hasn’t seen it in months. Some of our favorite board games include Trouble, Sorry! & Guess Who?. My kids love the card games found in this set & they are also big fans of Spot It. Our local library even has a large display of various games that you can borrow just like you would a book!

10. Play in the Rain

Yes, it might be raining, but you don’t have to spend all your time indoors (unless it’s torrential). Grab umbrellas & boots and enjoy some fresh air! Kids are beyond excited to have permission to play out in the rain. This is definitely something I need to be better about allowing them to do because simple play is fun play.

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I hope the ideas shared here have inspired you! Bring on the rain!!

What about you? What do your kids like to do when it rains? I would love to hear your ideas, so leave me a comment below!

Until next time,
Charissa

 

How to Save While Spending

When was the last time you spent money? Last night? Earlier today? A few minutes ago? Spending is inevitable. Saving while spending is smart.

Today I am sharing a few ways to save while spending.

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Make a list of what you want and stick to it.

I actually shared this idea in a prior quick tip post, but it’s worth mentioning again. A list in the grocery store helps you buy the items you need for the week (and not all the other items screaming your name as you walk by). A list for a trip to the mall for summer clothes helps you stick to your needs (not your wants). Lists help you stay focused and budget-conscious.

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Choose online shopping.

I am a big fan of online shopping because of the convenience, but it has other benefits as well including helping you to save money. With online shopping you can check out a few sites before settling on a specific price for a certain item. There are even comparison shopping engines that do the work for you so that you can get the best price for the item you desire.

Use coupons and rebates.

Coupons and rebates are a great way to save a little money while you spend. Cutting coupons is always an option, but if you find that task tedious, you can use various coupon apps to meet your needs. Coupons.com is a very popular coupon site, and today I added their new app to my phone!

Along with coupons, you can easily receive “cash back” thanks to the ease of rebate websites and apps. Have you tried Ibotta? You can scan your receipts and receive cash back for certain purchases. If you are interested in Ibotta, you can click my referral link to receive your $10 welcome bonus!!  https://ibotta.com/r/dkcywic

Ebates is another easy rebate option you can utilize when making purchases at your favorite retailers. Earn cash back when you shop at any one of the 2,000 retailers listed on their site.

Look for credit for first time customers.

If you have followed my blog for any amount of time you should already know that I am huge fan of thredUP. One of the first reasons I was drawn to this online second-hand clothing store was because first time customers could get a $10 credit towards their first purchase.

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Schoola is another online second-hand clothing store that also offers a $10 credit for first time customers. If you have to buy clothing, why not check out an option that provides you with a little credit?! It’s also a great way to try out a new store without throwing away a bunch of money.

I hope the ideas I shared with you today help you to save while spending!

What about you? How do you save? I would love to hear your ideas, so leave me a comment below!

Until next time,
Charissa

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