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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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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What I Do With The Clothes I Purge From My Closet

Several weeks ago I organized my bedroom closet, and this organizational mini-project led to the removal of several articles of clothing. Whenever we clean out or organize our closets we are left with a decision: What should we do with the clothes we purge?

Today I am sharing what I do with the clothes I purge from my closet.

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

I begin by doing a quick assessment, and then sort the clothes into piles determining what should be tossed out, given to friends, donated to an organization or sold.

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Toss Out: Sometimes an item has to be tossed out. I don’t like when clothing becomes trash, but sometimes it has to happen. If I find clothes with holes, rips or other damage I toss them out. (If I am able to make them into rags then I do that.)

Give Away to Friends: I sometimes see an item and know it will be a good option for a friend. This happens most frequently with my children’s clothing. It’s nice to be able to share the love and pass along items that no longer fit my kiddos.

Donate to an Organization: We have many Red Cross and Salvation Army donation boxes around us. I limit the amount of clothing I leave in these boxes; I know these organizations are often overloaded with donations, and I am not fully certain about what happens to the clothes I donate. We have a local family pantry that receives clothing donations so that has become my first choice when donating to an organization.

Sell: There are times when I choose to sell my gently used items that no longer work for me because it is a unique way to make a little money. There are a number of consignment shops in my area, and there is one in particular that I will consign with if I choose to sell locally. More often than not, if I am choosing to sell, then I will do it online.

My number one online option for selling my gently used clothing is thredUP. I buy from thredUP and when it makes sense, I sell to them. The process for selling your clothes begins with ordering a clean out kit. The clean out kit consists of a large plastic bag (to fill with your clothes) and some basic info and instructions for sending your clothes to thredUP.

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Poshmark is another option for selling your clothes. I just heard about and am trying Poshmark for the first time. I have listed just 2 items, and I will let you know if I have any success!

When donating or selling clothes, I like to take the time to make sure the clothes look as good as they can. There are two tools I use to make this happen: a lint roller and a fabric defuzzer.

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Remove the lint!

Get rid of the pills!

A closet clean out and organization will lead to unwanted items, so remember the options I shared when considering what you might do with the items you purge!

What about you? What do you do with the items you purge from your closet? Leave me a comment; I would love to hear from you!

Until next time,
Charissa

 

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When Reaching Your Financial Goals Means You Don’t Look Like Everyone Else

6 years ago my family and I began our financial journey.

6 years ago I read a book that inspired and challenged me. I passed it along to my husband right before he got on a plane, he read it, and returned from his trip inspired and challenged. What was this inspiring and challenging book? The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.

Prior to those 6 years, we were responsible with our money. We were being thoughtful about how we spent and saved, but we didn’t have any solid financial goals. Then something changed and we became focused, unified, and determined…

*I’m excited to be guest posting over at The Budget Girl! You can read the rest of the post there. I hope our story encourages you!

Until next time,
Charissa

Our Simple Morning Routine

I always love reading about other families’ morning routines. I find them interesting and inspiring. Today I want to give you a little glimpse into our simple morning routine.

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Wake up
My 3 children (ages 10, 8 & 4) wake up anywhere between 5:30 and 7:00am. Sometimes one is up at 5:30, and the other 2 wake later. Sometimes they are all up early or all up late, if you want to call 7am “late”.

Cuddling on couch/reading/breakfast
The first few moments of the morning are usually a slow waking process. We might cuddle a bit on the couch. My oldest usually reads. I then begin making breakfast. All 3 don’t eat together, so 2 will eat while 1 rests on the couch; then the 3rd eats while the other 2 relax on the couch.

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Get Dressed/Brush Teeth
Because we pick out clothes the night before, getting dressed doesn’t take very much time. The kids brush their teeth after getting dressed.

Chores
My oldest daughter and my son each have 3 chores they complete daily. 1 of their 3 is a morning chore, so they complete that chore before heading to school. My daughter empties the dishwasher, and my son takes out the recycling.

Playtime
If things have gone well and there is a little time left, they have some playtime together. My 4 year old is especially fond of this time since she is an only child during school hours.

Out the door
We grab their lunch boxes, add them to their book bags, and they head out the door to wait for the bus.

Now it’s just my 4 year old & me.

Book time
I like to start our time together with some reading. We snuggle on the couch, and read 3 or 4 books. (Most recently she is on a Cinderella kick.)

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Work time/tablet time
I try to work on my blog and tasks related to that in the morning, so after I finish reading to my daughter, I make myself breakfast and do some work. She enjoys watching some of her PBS favorites on the tablet.

Out of the house/playtime at home
Some mornings we head out of the house, and sometimes we hang at home and play. By 11:30 she is eating lunch, and we start getting ready for afternoon preschool.

Some mornings are harder than others because (I know, hard to believe) we don’t always wake up in good moods. I do find, though, that this super simple routine helps us move beyond our grumpy moods and make our way through the morning with general ease. I also find that our evening routine positively affects our mornings. There are no perfect mornings, but I am thankful I get to start the day with my 3 children and our simple routine.

What about you? What does your morning look like? What time do your kids generally wake up? Leave your comments down below. I would love to hear from you!

Until next time,
Charissa

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