Day 14: 31 Days of Being Present

I love feeling like my week is going to start off right {fingers crossed that is}. Sundays are often pretty peaceful days without a lot to do which is nice but I also like to take advantage and get stuff done on  so that my Mondays start fresh and without a million things to do. So today, the hubby picked up some OT which left me with two kiddos who hate running errands 😉 Thankfully my dad took one of them out for the day and the other stayed with me. This was by choice. Dad took Ben to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery {when my kids were little they called it the Fish Factory} and invited Mason along but Mason preferred to shop with me. I was kinda lost as to why he would choose me so I asked {when it’s Mason, you never know what the answer might be}. Well it was an interesting one as always! He said he did not like “the smell of the fish food”. Um, OK. I had never heard this in the many, many times we have gone. So fish hatchery 0, mommy 1. Actually he is pretty easy going so it was A-OK having him as my buddy. We tackled the To Do List. Michaels, Costco, Safeway and then the money pit gas station. Boom! In two hours I had my errands run, gas tank filled, cupboards and fridge stocked. Yippee! Oh, then upon getting home Mason took off to play with friends so I cleaned the house too. So there ya have it, by putting in a few hours today {being present and focusing} – my week is going to be so much less stressful. I also didn’t feel like I took away from family time since hubs is at work and the kiddos were happier being with Grandpa and their friends.

Day 6: 31 Days of Being Present

Today I am going to talk about being present while buying presents. I know, so many of you are just amazing at this task but there are many that struggle. I think this post might be perfect for so many husbands!! 😉 Especially mine! Often times we run out at the last minute to get ‘something’ for that birthday party we have to attend. Is that ‘something’ special or does it literally look like you grabbed the first item you saw at the first store you were in? I love buying presents for people. I am thrifty, I admit it but not in a bad way!! I love to find deals but I am also very much about finding something special that is exactly what fits the person I am buying for. I often pick up things throughout the year just because I know it would make the prefect gift for a special somebody. I then stow the gift away in giant Rubbermaid container and pull them out as needed.

A few occasions which will warrant gifts: birthdays, hostess gift, retirement, housewarming and new babies. I am sure the list goes on and on but you get the idea. Always keep your eyes peeled for that special gift. Not only will you feel happy giving it but the recipient will be so thankful that you know them so well.

My mother in law’s birthday is coming up. She is not always the easiest person for me to buy for but I feel like I still manage to come up with something that is ‘her’.

This year I decided on a cozy theme since we are in the midst of Fall. One of her favorite things to do is wake up early and sit on her back porch while enjoy some tea and a good book. I decided I’d contribute to this love. I was at the best store ever Target and decided on this lovely blanket {yes, it was on clearance from $24.99 to $17.98), I also found this adorable matching red mug for $1.99 and a box of chamomile tea. Yes, I just totally told you what everything costs but one thing my MIL does not do and that is read my blog. Sigh. It’s OK — we all do different things with our time eh? Anyway, I love that I got a great gift that truly does fit the person for a great price.

What do you think? Did I do good? The weather totally cooled down today and I personally would love to snuggle up with a soft blanket and a hot pumpkin spice latte. Mmmmmmm!!

How do you shop for gifts? On the fly or well thought out?

Day 5: 31 Days of Being Present

MONEY!   yes — the place where we all need to be present but often times we would rather not deal with it at all. Finances. Bills. Debt. Whatever you call it, it’s all about paying the bills. There are over 1000 bloggers participating in the 31 Days over at The Nester. Of course it’s fun to see what topics other people are picking.  This is where I found 31 Day to a Better Budget at A Time for Everything.

I love that she is so amazingly organized and that she has every day broken down for the entire 31 days. Wow. Maybe this is the first clue that I should listen eh? She seems to know her business 😉

So won’t you follow along and see what you can do to make the best of your budget? Maybe by being more present and actually following some guidelines, we I can become more aware of how to spend more importantly, how to save!

 

 

Check out her blog to follow along on a 30 day journey to a better budget.

 

 

 

 

Daily Deals by Fabulous Crafters – Groopdealz, Very Jane and Pick Your Plum

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love crafty people and I love me some deals! So I wanted to share a couple of my favorite daily deal websites. Basically you subscribe to these and then the daily deals pop up in your inbox. One of my favorite things is that you find awesome things and you can stock up for occasions such as birthdays or holidays. I’ve gotten everything from handmade signs to pillow covers and even jewelry.

Groopdealz – here are just a few of the fun things up for grabs right now for amazing deals.

 

 

 

Pick Your Plum features a daily deal Monday – Friday at 7am. Today’s deal is these tin sign boards.  

 

Very Jane is probably one that I have purchased from the most. They have several deals running daily.

 

 

I love homemade items. I feel like there is so much love behind these items so it makes me feel good to share them with friends and family. Do you have a go to place for gifts? Do tell 😉

Goblin Gardens – Local Farm Fresh Pumpkins & Hay Maze

Well, I am on restriction now. From Pinterest. It’s become a borderline ‘issue’. Kinda like chocolate except I like Pinterest more then chocolate! Do you “pin”? Click here if you do and you can check out my boards. If not, let me know and I can let you in on the secret 😉 Basically I could sit and pin my likes all day and all night. So I give myself little time-lines, “Gabby, at 10:15 you must close out of Pinterest”. Ugh. Seriously people. It is like crack {not that I would know but you get the idea}. So beyond my addiction, I wanted to share a what looks to be a fun local Pumpkin Patch in Natomas. It is called Goblin Gardens. They are open daily from 10am – 7pm. Some of the fun things they offer:

  • Corn Maze
  • Bale Pyramid (Consisting of 1356 bales of hay.) The best view of our farm.
  • Minature Hay Maze
  • Minature Racetrack for younger children.
  • Large inflatable double-slide
  • many fun cutouts and backdrops for some terrific family photo opportunities.
  • Weekends hourly educational Hayrides. (Available also by appointment on weekdays.)

I can not seem to locate the prices but I did find a $1 off coupon on their Facebook Page. Click here to be redirected. You can also contact them at 916-925-2496.

Oh yeah, don’t let the idea of a “Minature Hay Maze” be a deterrent — my 40 year old husband managed to have a great time chasing and scaring the kids in one at Apple Hill this last week. The fact that he is 40 and did this is a whole other post 😉 I think I shall call it, “Once a boy, always a boy”. The kids had a blast with their grown up friend! Ha ha.

Do you have  a favorite Pumpkin Patch? I’d love to hear where it is.

Summer Fun

Even though yesterday was a day of rain, it was the last day of school. So today we embarked upon our first official day of Summer vacation. The sun is shining and it is a perfect 69 degrees. Totally weird weather for the end of May but I like it! The boys and I had breakfast at Karen’s Cafe {my fave for yummy pastries}. Then I dragged the poor little guys to the mall cause mama needed a new dress for a friend’s wedding. It’s OK — they got to spend a little money at the toy store. Bribes often work and are sometimes necessary 😉 As much as I know that summer will fly by, I also know it is important to find time fillers. Kids get bored and then mama get’s crabby dealing with bored kids. Or maybe that is just this mama. Doubtful though. In mu search of things to do this summer, I have come up with some ideas. Personally I gravitate towards the cheap or freebie ones but there are also camps that cost but might be worth the extra hours of sanity. They also might be just what the working families need to fill up the days.

Bowling, video arcades, water parks, regular parks, camping — there are so many options. Also, we are located in a prime spot {Northern California that is!}. Situated somewhere between the mountains and the beaches, day trips are a short drive away as are so many vacation destinations. Click here for State Park info.

Spend time with friends and family.

Regal Cinemas Summer Movie Express. Once this was a free activity but now you have to pay $1 admission. Still, not too shabby for a movie! Click here for more information.

Eat ice cream.

The Sacramento Bee has a special feature called Sac Moms Club that has a variety of information on classes, camp outs and activities for families. Click here for more information.

Make s’mores.

Sacramentokids.com offers a whole list of great ideas for kids and teens, see below or click here for the actual site:

Museums
Take your kids on a learning expedition! Sacramento’s area museums offer great fun and teach important lessons at the same time.

California State Railroad Museum* (916) 445-6645; 111 I St., Old Sacramento
Aerospace Museum of California* (916) 643-3192; 5934 Price Ave., McClellan
Discovery Science/Space Museum* (916) 575-3941; 3615 Auburn Blvd., Sac
Discovery Gold Rush Museum* (916) 264-7057; 101 I St., Old Sacramento
Crocker Art Museum (916) 808-7000; 216 O St, Sacramento
Towe Auto Museum* (916) 442-6802; 2200 Front St., Sacramento

Amusement Parks
Although Sacramento doesn’t have any large-scale amusement parks, there are an abundance of smaller parks that are great for families!

Fairytale Town (916) 489-4918; 2850 San Lorenzo Way, Carmichael
Funderland Children’s Park (916) 456-0115; 1350 17th Ave., Sacramento
Scandia Family Fun Center (916) 331-0115; 5070 Hillsdale Blvd., Sacramento
Golfland SunSplash* (916) 784-1273; 1893 Taylor Rd., Roseville

Water Parks
We have many water parks in the Sacramento area, including two full-size water slide amusement parks.

Raging Waters @ Cal Expo (916) 924-3747; 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento
Golfland SunSplash (916) 784-1273; 1893 Taylor Rd., Roseville
Folsom Aquatic Center (916) 355-8318; 1200 Riley St., Folsom

Zoos
There’s nothing like going to the Zoo with your kids, and Sacramento has some great ones.

Sacramento Zoo (916) 264-5888; 3930 W Land Park Dr., Sacramento
Folsom Zoo (916) 351-3527; 403 Stafford St., Folsom
Effie Yeaw Nature Center* (916) 489-4918; 2850 San Lorenzo Way, Carmichael

Outdoor Fun
Get outside and have fun in nature with your kids. These nature areas offer great opportunities to experience nature within a short drive of the city.

Effie Yeaw Nature Center* (916) 489-4918; 2850 San Lorenzo Way, Carmichael
CSUS Aquatic Center (916) 278-2842; 1901 Hazel Ave., Gold River
Folsom Lake State Park (916) 988-0205; 7806 Folsom-Auburn Rd., Folsom
American River Bike Trail (916) 875-6961; (various access locations)
River Otter Water Taxi (916) 446-7704; (on the river at Old Sacramento)
Nimbus Fish Hatchery (916) 358-2884; 2001 Nimbus Road, Rancho Cordova

Fun for Teens
Motivating teens to get out is a little harder than younger kids, but we’ve put together a list of fun, teen-appropriate places where they can go too!

RPM Indoor Kart Racing* (916) 368-7223; 3130 Bradshaw Rd., Sacramento
Skatetown Roseville (916) 783-8550; 1009 Orlando Ave., Roseville
28th & B Skate Park* (916) 808-4066; 28th St. and B St., Sacramento
La Sierra Skate Park (916) 480-0700; 5325 Engle Rd., Carmichael
Golfland SunSplash* (916) 784-1273; 1893 Taylor Rd., Roseville
Sky High Sports (916) 853-5867; 11327 Folsom Blvd, Rancho Cordova

* I started this post last week. It looked like summer might actually be on it’s way. As I type this, there is hail and rain. The skies are dark and it feels like January! Now, I don’t have issues with January but this is June people. I am feeling restless {as are most No Ca peeps} of a very moody Mother Nature. I know, it could be much worse but still. When you are used to blue skies and heat come May, this just makes a person stir crazy.

Are you feeling summer just yet?

Well I am off to reshop for something to wear to a friends outdoor wedding this weekend. I had the cutest outfit picked out but we are now supposed to dress warm for an outside wedding that is expecting rain. At least rain on your wedding day is supposed to be good luck.

Have your coffee and save money?

What?? How can it be? You can still treat yourself to that coffee at the local coffee shop. Are you guilty of this splurge? Hand raised over here. I am totally guilty. I do love my iced coffee made with half whole milk and three pumps vanilla (hey, a girl just knows how she likes her coffee). Plus I have grown a little attached to the staff at my local Starbuck’s. I know — terrible and expensive habit but it is my one vice. Well that and wine but that is a whole other post 😉

A few tips from the latest Real Simple Magazine on how to get a cheaper cup of coffee. I can’t locate the link but the credit goes to Valerie Rains. Now a few tips — remember, be kind to your barista — they might see right through your ‘cheap plan’ but kindness and a smile goes a very long way! Oh, I also have to say that the drink I order is basically a latte in disguise but cheaper. I didn’t intentionally start out thinking so. My plan was just to cut my caffeine intake and in doing so, I made a cheaper drink. They call is a misto — I call it a cheap vanilla latte 🙂

Cold drinks are easier to manipulate since you add milk, ice, etc. For your own latte order a shot or two of espresso over ice. Add your own free milk at the condiment bar (less room for error in the measuring as well).

Looking for two iced teas? Order a large straight-up. Often teas are diluted with water. You can then get an extra cup with ice and split the drink by adding a little water yourself.

When you want room for cream but don’t want to skimp on the size of your coffee, ask that it be poured in a larger cup. You get the amount you paid for with room for your add-ins.

Looking for a smaller size then what is offered? Just ask. You may be able to get a ‘kids’ size for an adjusted price.

Looking for the caffiene buzz? Instead for two shots of espresso, how about adding just one to a plain ol’ cup of coffee?

Now my final tip for you which is something that I do, see if your local coffee shop offers a reward program. After so many drinks I get a rewards certificate for a free one. It makes a difference and I just have to load and spend on one card. It also helps me stretch out my coffee allowance.

Are you a coffee shop junky or a disciplined soul that makes your own at home?

Tuesdays in Town Center = Bargains!

Ah Town Center — at the heart of El Dorado Hills and offering a little bit of everything. Did you know that Tuesdays are a day of savings though? Here is a peek at what deals you can score.

Regal Theaters
$5 All Movies, Every Tuesday All Day! Use your Regal Crown Club Card and Get a small bag of popcorn for $2!
Tuesdays Only and only at the Regal In El Dorado Hills! Additional 3D or IMAX up-charges apply. Holidays are excluded.

Sir Vesa’s Mexican Grill and Mama Ann’s Deli
Kids Eat Free
at Sir Vesa’s Mexican Grill and Mama Ann’s Deli with the purchase of entree or meal.

Round Table Pizza
All You Can Eat BuffetPizza, Salad Bar, Garlic Parmesan & Cinnamon Twist
Tuesdays between 5 and 8 pm | 7.99 (Adults) – $4.99 (Kids 12 & Under)

Its Kids Time
Free Lunch
on Tuesdays with childcare.

Massage Envy
$39 Introductory Massage
at Massage Envy. This is $10 off the regular intro price.

Tan Central Tanning Tuesday
All Services and Tanning Packages (SUNCLUBS NOT INCLUDED), BUY 1 GET 2ND 1/2 OFF (same or less value) MIX AND MATCH.  Single Tans/Tanning Packages/Professional Teeth Whitening/Collagen Rejuvenate packages/Airbrush Tan (Limit one per Tuesday)

Yogaberry
Yogaberry is happy to offer buy one yogurt get $1.00 off a second yogurt

Flowers de Amor
Flowers de Amor is offering a dozen long-stem roses for $9.99

GNC
20% off all GNC Items excluding any other offers/promotions
. The customer needs to mention “Town Center Tuesdays” to get this deal.

Interior Elements
Interior Elements is offering $5.00 off any purchase of $30.00 or more, good only on regular priced items, not sale or consignment. Can’t be used with any other coupons or offersSee More.

Subway
1 Free Cookie with any purchase on Tuesdays.  Buy one 6″ and Get one 6″ (of equal or lesser price) FREE with the purchase of a 32 oz. drink (Excludes Premium Subs).

El Dorado Hills Town Center reserves all rights to modify, alter or cancel Tuesday Savings at any time without notice.

Trader Joes vs. other grocery stores

As of late I have an obsession — well more of a challenge. Meal planning and grocery shopping. I am truly an organized person and I appreciate the best deals. I’d say I am pretty average as far as my shopping. I don’t but a lot of junk but I am also not one who buys all organic either. We are on a budget so I have to stretch the dollars. Organic just takes up so much more money and it is not always possible to make that ‘splurge’. I have high hopes of having a higher producing garden this summer. I am also big on Farmers Markets. Just being at a Farmers Market puts me in a good mood! Anyway, back to the dreaded meal planning. Somehow I get a little too consumed with all of the ads. Do I shop all local stores to get the best deals? Seems silly and time consuming! Lately I have shopped various stores and I definitely have opinions and a favorite store. If  I could do all of my shopping and save a good amount of money, I would choose Raleys. That is where I used to do most of my shopping. Primarily for the free childcare which just made my life easy and the extra money spent so worth it. I also feel like I always find all of the things I like at Raleys. I decided to branch out though based on what people were saying. I have shopped Safeway more often lately. I can not navigate that store as easily which makes me a little frustrated as it turns in to a longer shopping trip. I also don’t find all of the items that I am used to finding at Raleys. I do however love seeing the savings when I use my club card, it is pretty significant. Another store I have navigated is Winco. Great deals but sometimes it feels overwhelming as far as people. I am also not impressed by the produce section. I have also shopped Food for Less quite a bit lately and I am impressed by some of the prices as well as the cleanliness of the store. They are actually owned by the same company as Nugget. The produce seems fresh and the store seems to have a lot of what I am used to buying. Which leads me to Nugget. I do love Nugget. It is a very ‘pretty’ store where I can often find great treats, etc. I love the fresh selection of salsas, olives and cheeses. It can get rather pricey though so I am picky about what I am buying there. A few items will easily run me $30. Not practical on a budget. Now the one thing I have found is that you can find deals everywhere. Some stores sell things for less then other stores regardless if most items are more or less. You will always find something cheaper in one store then another based on brands and weekly sales. So now you have my low down on how I shop. Now, the last store that I want to talk about here is Trader Joes. I have family members that work for the store. I know that the company is a great one. They are super friendly and the prices are pretty phenomenal. Plus how can you not love the Hawaiian shirts? 🙂 That alone has to make you feel happy! They have a decent selection. I came across an article on Shine yesterday and I thought it was pretty accurate in what the pros and cons are. I wanted to share that article with you. Here is recap of what to buy at Trader Joes and what you might want to shop for elsewhere.

To Buy:

  • Freezer Foods
  • Dairy and cheeses
  • Load up on staples such as rice, beans, etc.
  • Think outside the food box, items like plants, herbs and flowers will cost you less then big box stores

Also keep in mind that Trader Joe’s has a healthier philosophy and you will notice this by the ingredients they use as well as the amount of organic items (which don’t have as hefty of a price tag as other stores).

To avoid or be mindful of:

  • Produce: Things are prepackaged which means you don’t get to pick the best items, the quality also doesn’t seem as great on many items {although I do like their herbs}.
  • Meats: The prices tend to be a bit higher and they are probably not as fresh considering that they do not have an in-store butcher. However, they do offer a decent variety of grass-fed and organic items.
  • Treats: This is debatable. I have loved buying some easy treats for hosting parties at home and school but beware, these are ever so tempting but they can add a hefty price to your shopping bill.
  • Bakery items: These are hit and miss depending on the store and time of day

For the full article head on over to Shine by clicking here.

A few other tips I’d like to offer for shopping especially for meat are Costco. You can buy in bulk for so much less. We do this and you can break down the bulk items into meal sized packaging and freeze them to use as needed. We have also become a fan of a semi local butcher called Swingles. They are located in Jackson but you can get so much for your money . It is fresh, a lot of it is local and again you buy a lot at one time {making the drive worth it} and then you can also throwit in the freezer for a later date. I am sure there are other local butchers, this is just one that we have found and are quite happy with.

How and where do you shop? Are you a one stop type of person or do you shop around?

Love is in the air in El Dorado Hills

Town Center is the downtown of itty, bitty El Dorado Hills. It is a great area full of shopping, dining, events, pampering and fun! Here is a list of some great promos happening for Valentine’s Weekend:

Holiday Inn Express
15% off (2/12-2/14),subject to availability, not combined with other discounts/offers.

Asante Spa
Indulge yourself in a candlelit day with Champagne and rose treatments, chocolate Fondue and fresh fruit. Packages starting at $40.

Lazio
20.00 off your Wick Designs purchase.

It’s Kids Time
Kids Eat Free with service.

Tan Central
Couples Full Body Airbrush — 2 Sessions $50 (reg $90).

Sir Vesa’s Mexican Grill
Dinner for 2 for $25 — 2 menus to choose from.

Round Table Pizza
Small Specialty Pizza, 2 salad bars and 2 adult beverages for $19.99 (or 2 soft drinks)”. Dine in or take out only. Alcohol not available for take out.

Massage Envy
Introductory massage for $39.

Flowers de Amor
Buy one Mylar Balloon get four latex free Pre-Book Your Custom Designed Arrangement, Imported Ecuadorian Roses, In Advance and receive Chocolate Covered Strawberries Free with your order! Pre- Book Deadline February 8th.

Ruffhaus Hot Dog Company
Free Specialty Hot Dog or Sandwich. Buy any Specialty Hot Dog or Sandwich, and 1 Side Dish To share and get a Free Specialty Hot Dog or Sandwich of equal or lesser value.

Coldstone Creamery
2 Love it Creations including 1 mix in for $6.00

Mon Bijou
20% off all heart merchandise.

Veda Home Accent
Troll Beads® Buy Claw get bracelet free.

Mia Sorella
20% Off Dark Chocolate Balsamic.

The Balanced Chakra
$10 off any reading of choice

Adam’s Cigars
Buy 3 Cigars get one Free.

Tramonto Jewelry
20% off all jewelry.

GNC
Buy one item get one item 50% Off of equal or lesser value.

YogaBerry
Free Waffle Cone with Yogurt purchase on February 14, 2011 only.

*Restrictions apply, see store for details.

How will you celebrate with your love?