5 Unexpected Items You Will Find at the Dollar Tree


I am a big fan of the Dollar Tree Store. In just one place you can find such a wide variety of items for a great price (that price being $1, of course)! I think it is a great place to buy items you might already need to purchase but at a much lower cost than most stores.

The Dollar Tree is certainly full of some of the basics that you might expect to find including: paper goods, party supplies, toiletries, candy and various food items. In fact, that’s just the very start of the expansive list of products you can find at the Dollar Tree.


Today I want to share 5 unexpected items you will find at the Dollar Tree.

Wall Decals


People are loving wall decals these days. You see them a lot in children’s rooms and baby nurseries, but they have also become quite popular in the main spaces of the home. You can buy expensive decals or you could pop into the Dollar Tree, and choose from their wide selection of decals for any wall in your home. You can also think outside the box and create framed art using these decals.




Did you know you can find books at the Dollar Tree? They have children’s books, books for teens and adults, cookbooks, coloring books, word searches and other activity books. You never know what you might find. I have yet to find a cook book at my store, but popular books are often snatched up quickly. Next time you’re at the Dollar Tree take a look at the book section, you might just find a hidden gem.


Teacher Supplies


Before having children I was a classroom teacher. Teacher supplies can be pricey, so it’s nice to have a place where you can buy needed items inexpensively. You can find certificates, banners, posters, flashcards, motivational stickers, mini-whiteboards, and many, many other options perfect for the classroom. These can obviously be used in your home, day care or church as well.




When it comes to accessories, the Dollar Tree has you covered. You can find sunglasses, fashion scarves, socks, winter hats and gloves, headbands, bows, and clips. (I know I’m forgetting something.) Our family favorite in this category is probably anything hair-related. I have purchased many a head band and hair-tie for my daughters from the Dollar Tree. I will also say that their hats and gloves have held up over the course of a couple winters. Check out the numerous accessories the next time you are at the Dollar Tree.


Name Brands


I think some people steer clear of the Dollar Tree because they think everything sold in the store is an off-brand. That’s not true! The Dollar Tree is full of name brands including (but certainly not limited to): Almay, Betty Crocker, Bic, Brillo, Campbell’s, Colgate, Crest, Dial, Goya, Hanes, Lays, Scotties, and Softsoap. If you see a name brand you like and normally purchase, scoop it up and save yourself some money. It’s also pretty cool when you can match up a name brand item with a coupon. Hello, free (or almost free)!


What about you? What items do you like to purchase from the Dollar Tree? Have you found any unexpected items while shopping? Share in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!

Until next time,


5 Meal Planning Tips

Earlier this week I shared a very basic meal planning post. I believe that meal planning is a great option for those looking to make life just a little less busy.  A little planning goes a long way in saving you time and money.

Today I want to share 5 Meal Planning Tips expanding a bit on my prior post.


1.Check your cupboards & fridge. Look in your cupboards and fridge before choosing your meals for the week. You may find canned goods that inspire a chili recipe. Maybe there is meat or veggies that can be used in a casserole. You might even have enough ingredients to make a complete meal.

2. Consult your store flyer. Your store flyer can provide direction as you pick meals for the week. If ground chicken is on sale you can add chicken burgers to the week’s plan. If you see a great deal on pasta and sauce then add an Italian dish to the menu. The store flyer can inspire ideas and help you choose inexpensive items for low-cost meals.

3. Don’t be afraid of repeats. Families have their favorites: Mom’s meatloaf, a tasty lasagna or burger and fries. You know which meals your family loves and talks about to their friends. It’s okay to have the same meal week after week. If your family loves baked macaroni and cheese then maybe you add it to the menu every Tuesday. It’s one less meal you need to think about each week.

4. Consider your leftovers. If you make a large enough portion of a certain meal then you can eat it again in one of the upcoming meals. You might even wait until the end of the week and eat all the leftovers from earlier in the week (making a buffet of sorts). You could also use leftovers from one meal to create another meal. If you made shredded chicken over rice one night perhaps you can use the leftover chicken in tortilla wraps with black beans and tasty toppings.

5. Make your grocery list. A list of meals is great, but don’t forget to then make your grocery list. Going to the store with only a list of the meals will make for some disorganized shopping trips. Write down your meal ideas, consult the recipe noting the ingredients, and then add those ingredients to your grocery list.


I hope these tips are a help to you as you make meal planning a part of your weekly routine.

What about you? What are some of your meal planning tips? Share them in the comments; I would love to hear from you!

Until next time,


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Meal Planning 101

Looking to save time and money? Meal Plan!

If you feel like life is crazy each evening and you spend too much time fretting about dinner options I would highly recommend meal planning.


In a past post I shared 5 reasons to meal plan, so today’s post will focus more on the “hows” than the “whys”.

Meal planning is simply choosing meals to eat over the course of the week.

When someone talks about meal planning they usually focus on dinner because it is the meal when most of the family is home, and it tends to be the biggest meal of the day. You can also meal plan breakfast and lunch. For the purpose of this post we are going to stick with dinner.

Consult Your Calendar

When meal planning it is important to have your calendar close at hand. First, determine how many meals you will need to plan for in the coming week. For example, if you are going to meet your friends for pizza one night and you are also going to your sister’s house another evening then you only need to plan 5 meals. While looking over the week also note any evening events or activities. A crock pot meal might be best if there is a night when everyone is coming and going at different times. If you have to eat an early, simple dinner one evening perhaps soup and sandwiches make sense. A quick glance at your calendar will help you with your first steps for the week’s meal plan.

Choose the Meals

Now that you know how many meals you need and what types of meals might be best you can begin to choose meals for the week. Thankfully, with the help of the internet, we have access to endless recipes. You can search for recipes there or if you love your cookbooks, pull out some of those and add recipes to your plan for the week.

One helpful tip is to begin building a master list of meal ideas. If you find a meal your family loves, add it to the list. Before you know it you will have a large list of meal ideas that you can quickly refer to when planning each week. This list could be stored in various forms including a list on the side of your fridge, a binder or a notes/list app on your phone. Remember to include links to websites (or reference a cook book) if it’s a recipe in which you need to remember detailed instructions.

More Easy Ideas

  • Assign a theme to each night of the week: Taco Tuesdays or                Italian each Thursday or maybe Soup Saturdays.
  • Don’t over-complicate things: A simple meal is a great choice any night of the week. Check out a few of our simple meal favorites!
  • Have some basic, quick options in your pantry: Keep a small supply of pastas and soups for those nights when things don’t go as planned.

Meal planning doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process you dread each week. In fact, I know that the more you do it, the easier it will be each week. You’ll find that things will be a little less busy and a little less crazy when you have a plan in place.

Happy Meal Planning!

What about you? Do you meal plan? Do you have a favorite go-to meal?

Until next time,


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Choose Gratitude + Inspirational Tees from Cents of Style

2 weeks ago I shared 2 of my goals for 2017. I also shared 2 extra goals which were less concrete than the first 2 but probably more important. One of those goals was: More Gratitude (Less Complaining).


I find myself quick to complain. Many times this complaining is just done in my own head, but then it eventually spills over affecting my words and my actions. I decided that this year I want to make the intentional choice to be thankful when tempted to complain.

There’s so much I could complain about:

  • the weather
  • how I feel
  • a sleepless night
  • a cold cup of “hot” tea
  • a missed opportunity
  • a misunderstanding
  • a hole in my favorite sweater
  • a missing item
  • a scratch on the hood of my car

Of course, that’s just the start of the list. Let yourself get into it and each of us could probably complain all day, every day.

I could complain all day or I could Choose Gratitude.

There’s so much to be thankful for:

  • my loving husband
  • my energetic children
  • lifelong friends
  • new friends
  • eggs and toast
  • a text message received at just the right time
  • a quiet morning
  • a long walk on a warm afternoon
  • my favorite robe
  • an encouraging conversation

This year I want more gratitude (less complaining).

This shirt is a great reminder. When I saw it among the selections at   Cents of Style I knew it was the one for me.


Today through 1/22 Cents of Style’s Inspirational Tees are on sale.         Use code INSPIRE17 to take 50% off lowest marked price + free shipping!!


So many fun and meaningful options! Which one is the tee for you??

Choose Gratitude is mine because there is always a choice.

I can choose to get upset, complain and grumble or I can choose to be thankful and grateful for the moments, the day, and this life.


What about you? How can you choose gratitude today?

Until next time,


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

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Let’s Get Moving in 2017

In my Goals Post for 2017 I shared that one of my goals for this year is to exercise for 30 minutes each day. Today I am going to share a bit more about the whys and hows of this goal.

Let’s get moving in 2017!!


Why this goal?

The number one reason I include exercise in my life and in my goals for this year is for my health. I want to be healthy. I want to take care of my body. When I take care of myself physically it positively affects many others areas of my life.

Options for exercise


The options for exercise are endless. I am choosing to share a few general options here.

  1. Join a gym. I have not been a part of a gym since my college years, but it was a good fit for me then. A gym can be a great option for someone who is motivated by having to get up and get out of the house to exercise.
  2. Classes. Classes are a great way to try something new. Most recently I took a class at a fitness center, and I had so much fun challenging myself by working out in a small group setting.
  3. Outside. Getting outside for movement is a great option for exercise. You can walk, hike, bike or run. The movement plus the fresh air results in a refreshing workout.
  4. At home. It is possible to work out at home. If you have a basement or spare room with exercise equipment working out in that space is obviously a great option. I don’t have room for large equipment in my home, so I choose to use DVDs or online workouts to “get my sweat on” at home.

Ways to stay motivated

Let’s be honest, we can get all pumped up to exercise and be fit, and then life happens. We can quickly lose motivation, so I wanted to share some simple ways to stay motivated.

  1. Write down your goals. Write down your goals in a notebook or a journal. Writing them down makes it “official”, if you will. Then you can add your exercise task to your calendar. Check it off as you complete it each day, and stay motivated to continue down the healthy path.
  2. Work out with a friend. I took an exercise class with a friend this fall. I try to walk with my mom once a week. If you know someone is expecting you to join them for a work out, you are far less likely to skip it.
  3. Change up your work out. One day you can take a class. The next day you might go for a long walk. Later in the week you might run with a friend. Changing what you do helps keep the task from feeling stale.
  4. Don’t change up your work out. For some changing up what you do will be the motivating factor, but for others, if you don’t change it up (but instead keep it the same), you will find more success. Keeping it the same keeps it simple, and for some that’s just what is needed to stay motivated to exercise each day.
  5. Listen to music or podcasts. I love to listen to podcasts. I am also a big music fan, but I like to listen and learn while I work out, so that’s why I choose podcasts over music. Whatever you choose, listening to something while exercising takes your mind off the hard work and helps the time pass quickly and enjoyably.

A few of my favorite podcasts:

The Simple Show, http://theartofsimple.net/thepodcast/

Sorta Awesome, http://www.sortaawesomeshow.com/

The Dave Ramsey Show, http://www.daveramsey.com/show/home/

Final word of encouragement

Don’t be discouraged!

Oh, boy, is it easy to get discouraged. You miss a day or 2 of exercise, or a week…or even a month, and you think, “What’s the point?”. Please, don’t get discouraged! Throw on your shoes that next day and give it a go. Don’t beat yourself up over yesterday or the past few months. Look forward and keep moving!

What about you? How are you going to get moving in 2017? Leave a comment sharing some of the ways you move for exercise!

Until next time,


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5 Books that Have Inspired and Encouraged the Not So Busy Mom

Today I am sharing 5 books that have inspired and encouraged me on my journey to live a full life without the busy.


Here they are (in no particular order):

  1. Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy           by Alli Worthington

I shared this book in my Top 4 Reads of 2016. Not only is it a top read for 2016, but it is also one of my top inspiring books for moving beyond the busy and living a purposeful, meaningful life. Worthington shares details and insight from her story to help each of us break the busy in our own lives.

Wise words from the author: “Our lives have gotten so cluttered up with things we think we ‘should’ do, that we can’t figure out what we were meant to do.”

2. The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands   by Lysa Terkeurst
I was a huge fan of Lysa’s book Unglued, so I was excited when my sister shared The Best Yes with me. This book really encouraged me to consider my priorities and live a life that reflects them. It’s not always easy to say “no”, but sometimes you need to say “no” in order to say “yes”!

Wise words from the author: “A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”

3. Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids                                                         by Kim John Payne with Lisa Ross

This parenting book was like a breath of fresh air. I saw it sitting on the shelf in one of our local libraries, and I was immediately drawn to it. Our world screams “more”: buy more, have more, do more, but there is great power in “less”. This book explores and encourages a path that pursues “less”.

Wise words from the author: “Meaning hides in repetition: We do this every day or every week because it matters. We are connected by this thing we do together. We matter to one another. In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out is not the splashy, blow-out trip to Disneyland but the common threads that run throughout and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime (with a hot water bottle at our feet on winter evenings), Saturday morning pancakes.”

4. Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her House of Youth Entitlement                                                                                         by Kay Wills Wyma

One way to be just a little less busy is to not take care of everything ourselves. Sometimes we think it’s easier just to do all the tasks ourselves instead of asking our family to join in and share the work load. Wyma shares her 12 month journey to get her kids involved in and caring about life at home.

Wise words from the author: “Instead of communicating ‘I love you, so let me make life easy for you,’ I decided that my message needed to be something more along these lines: ‘I love you. I believe in you. I know what you’re capable of. So I’m going to make you work.’ ”

5. The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own                                                                                                                  by Joshua Becker

This books was one of my Top Reads for 2016. Like Breaking Busy, I also must include this in my list of books that have encouraged and inspired me down the not so busy path. Becker shares his journey of becoming a minimalist and why and how we can begin living with less in order to have more.

Wise words from the author: “Our excessive possessions are not making us happy. Even worse, they are taking us away from the things that do. Once we let go of the things that don’t matter, we are free to pursue all the things that really do matter.”

I’m thankful for these 5 authors who have shared their stories so that others might be inspired and encouraged. Perhaps one of these books might do that for you as you takes steps towards living a full life without all the busy.

What about you? What books have inspired you recently? Share the titles in the comments below!

Until next time,


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


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