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Family

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas card season all around the beach.  The families are dressed in their perfectly matching shades of white.  It’s a hustle to get those Christmas card pictures just right, so I recommend getting started now.  The weather is still warm, the kids are happy, and you will be the first card in everyone’s mailboxes for sure like that superstar mom you prove to be daily.  Just kidding.

But in all seriousness, here are my Christmas card strategies to help you enjoy some calm in the crazy.

First, save money and don’t use hire out photography.  We purchased a tripod and use the self-timer function on the camera.  It reduces a lot of stress hiring someone and then you can work with your own schedule.

We timed our photo just before sunset and was fortunate to have amazing light.  Make sure to face the sunset when taking your picture just at the right time.  Right after sunset is perfect even light and then the kids won’t be squinting.  We then use Light Room to filter the image and brighten it up if needed.

Secondly, we order our cards through Minted. They can easily be personalized, are quality and I like their designs.

Thirdly, match your outfits however you like.  Our family has been loving Vineyard Vines lately, so we all wore our favorite Vineyard Vines outfits.  The colors all coordinate nicely.  We let the kids pick out what they wanted, and a touch of gingham really adds to the style of the scene. What do you think? Don’t sit on this idea, schedule your family photo this weekend, order your cards and give yourself a big pat on the back. Now, only if ordering the bay leaf wreathes, my dad’s gift, and decorating was this easy.

Maybe next year.

Click to shop our outfits below:

Boys Bleeker pants // Boys White Oxford shirt // Boys Stripe Shirt // Toddler Canvas Pants // Toddler Oxford Shirt

Shalice’s White Dress sz 4 // Shalice’s Stripe button down in Medium // Reid’s canvas pants in gray // Reid’s gingham shirt // Straw hat // “H” Sandals

Girls Stripe Tunic Dress (she wore medium age 12) // Girls teen gingham dress (age 14, xxs)

6 Big Family Budget Hacks

by Shalice Noel

Some say that having a big family is too expensive. We think that it just takes more creativity.  Here are 5 big family budget hacks that we practice.

Family Ice Cream

Going to Ice Cream Parlor Regular Cup is $5.99 x 7 People = $41.93 plus tax and tips

Going to Grocery Store and buying 2 gallons of Ice Cream

Our Favorite Ice Cream is 2 for $10

Saved $32

Tip:

We find we often go to the ice cream parlor as an excuse to get out of the house, so take your gallons of ice cream to a nearby park and enjoy.

Meal Plan

“WHAT IS FOR DINNER?” Who else hates that question? We try and save time and money each week by subscribing to HelloFresh. We get meals that we pre select online, sent straight to our door. While it will takes time to create the meals, I love not having to think about it. When I have the HelloFresh meals, I go to the grocery store less and therefore less prone to impulse buys. I see you start sweets gummy bears by the checkout line . . .

Family Dinner

Going out to dinner

Nice meal at a modest sit-down restaurant is approximately $15 x 7 People = $105 plus tax and tips

Going to Chipotle

Burrito $10 for mom and dad.  The older kids order 2 pointers for $5.99 and we order Levi side of beans and rice for $2, for a total of $46

Saved $59

Haircuts

Going to the Salon

Kids haircuts cost $25 x 5 = $125 plus tips

Home Haircut

We bought clippers from Marshalls for $24, 10 years ago.  That was a great ROI (return on investment). 

Saved $125 / month

Tip:

The boy’s hair is super simple to cut.  In fact, I have cut Reid and the boys hair for years.  I still go to the salon regularly and the girls go occasionally to get washed and trimmed, but that’s it.

Movie Night

Going to the movies

New Release movie tickets cost $12 for kids and $14 for adults and that’s a matinee.  $12 x 5 + $14 x 2 = $88

Home Movie Night

Amazon Prime Movie Rental $3.99

Saved $84

Tip:

Pop some popcorn, get some cola and plopped down on your couch for a cozy movie night at home.  From what we saved in movie tickets, I bought us a new sectional for our media room!

Car Wash

The car wash cost $8 for the standard wash.

Home Car Wash

1 hour of free entertainment!  (Almost free, yes, we still have a water bill, but the entertainment is worth it)

Saved $8 per week

Tip:

To save water, fill a bucket of sudsy water and give them a sponge.  The kids love washing the car and it usually turns into a water fight.

It’s your turn, what are you money saving tips/hacks? I’d love to hear.

Shalice@shalice-noel

JEANS // BLUE FLATS // PINK SNEAKERS

I love a good flat that will take me from park dates to date night. This blue one was IT. I was skeptical at first, but LOVE it.I got my true size and paired them with the Daphne jeans (sz 26, all cotton), and shirt by Sundays. Hope everyone has a lovely Mother’s Day! xx Shalice

It’s 4 days till Friday, it’s time to get prepared.

Family night can get complicated beyond what to flavor the popcorn with. Can you relate? I asked you — my readers what are your favorite family friendly films and BOOM, I got great responses. Obviously, use parental caution and common sense as you know what your kids can handle in terms of movies and adults themes like funerals and death like we saw last night when we watched Fried Green Tomatoes. Reid and I have enjoyed making family night special with popcorn and nacho seasoning. I included the recipe below.

Add any of your favorites in the comments.

ET

Sound of Music

Mary Poppins

Newsies

Soul Surfer

Forever my girl – my kids say “this is mommy’s favorite movie.” Very sweet.

Cheaper by the Dozen

Sandlot

Because of Winn-Dixie

Snow Dogs

The Railway Children

Annie

Swiss family Robinson

Fried Green Tomatoes

Sky Captain and World of Tomorrow

BONUS:

A HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY – whole family loved this one!

WHALE RIDER

BLUE MIRACLE

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

For family night:

This Nacho Cheese Seasoning is perfect for popcorn, chips, and french fries! Or anything you want to sprinkle it on. It’s also vegan because I used nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy flavor.

NACHO CHEESE SEASONING INGREDIENTS

½ tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 ½ teaspoon of chili pepper powder (use more if you like it extra spicy)

1 teaspoon of onion powder

½ teaspoon of cumin powder 

½ teaspoon of sea salt

½ teaspoon of smoked paprika

Mix together, add on top of popcorn and drizzle with avocado oil.

Enjoy!

1.Don’t go to a third party, I wasted $100 going to a used car website to “hold” a car and never was able to talk to a person. Go to the manufacturer of the car, in our case, the official GMC website.

2. Go to available new cars, input your zip code. It showed us cars available within 50 miles.

3. I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled. Our car was at a dealership about an hour away. YAHOO!

4. Be on it. Call right away to confirm the purchase price and provide the deposit to hold the car.

5. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE. In the past, I’ve just put up with what was on the lot. Gold, white, silver, etc. I WANTED A BLACK YUKON! I was SO happy to wait for the car I wanted in my favorite color. It’s worth the wait.

Friends only tell friends the good tips.

MAJOR TIP: use coupon code “Psinergy” to receive 10% off Vivobase car which blocks yucky EMF. You’re welcome!

Read THIS BLOG POST about my 16 year old dream to own a suburban and have 6 kids haha!

This is the car we got: Yukon XLT black leather with tan trim. We LOVE the bucket seats so its easy for the kids to move around on long road trips.

Good luck on your car journey, let me know if this post was helpful.

xx Shalice

I love a house that is full of books. 

But it can also be a clutter disaster.  Therefore, I try not to waste our time and storage space on junk books.  I think of our library as I do our pantry.  If there is no nutritional value, don’t eat it.  If the story lacks good content, don’t bother.  Here is my top six list of our favorite books for Levi.

1)    Good Night Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown

2)    Caps For Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina

3)    Little Bunny Follows His Nose, by Katherine Howard

4)    Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker & Tom Lichtenheld

5)    Henny Penny, by Paul Galdone

6) Corduroy, by Don Freeman

Here is what I look for in a good book to read

1)    Plot.  Yes, even a book for toddlers should have a plot.

2)    Repetition.  It is important at this age.  Find books that rhyme, sing, or repeat phrases.  I like to read in funny voices and it makes him laugh.

3)    Illustrations.  I’m a sucker for great graphics and Levi loves pointing out objects he can identify.  Like the burch in Good Night Moon and Goodnight and the teddy bear in Goodnight Construction Site.  These two stories are especially genius.

As I often say, the days are long, but the years are short.  If your kids are already past the toddler stage, you can catch up the snuggle time with grand kids.

Have a lovely weekend,

XO

Shalice

I don’t love back to school frenzy but I secretly love all the prep and new gear! The kids share this joy with me. I bought the kids new Trapper Keepers, backpacks and jeans from Walmart. I had a blast from the past when I bought the Trapper Keepers home. I used to have one in junior high. Such good memories staying organized and “cool.” Now, my kids get to experience it.

See my picks below for starting off the year right:

Girls backpack // Girls Jeggings // Girls $3 tanks // Girls tees // // Boys backpacks // Trapper Keeper and this one / Notebooks // My cardigan // Boys jeans // Brooks’ shirt // Boys shoes // Boys Henley // Desktop Calendar //

Back to School for moms

Back to School for kids

Back to School Gear

Thank you Walmart for sponsoring this post!

Why I use Walmart+

We moved into a house with a pool at the end of February, and honestly, it’s been great! We find ourselves outside so much of the time because of it, and doesn’t every mom want that? Due to all this outside time, I’ve been branching out, trying to find different things to eat, play with, and do outside. And if the doing coincides with the eating, then all the better!  Enter the snow cone machine and syrups from Walmart! They absolutely love snow cones after our trip to Kauai two years ago, but I definitely didn’t like all the sugar and coloring usually found in snow cones. Surprisingly, the syrup I bought from Walmart doesn’t have the common red #40 or sugar. So far it’s been a huge hit, and is always a favorite at any party.

Also, to my friends with kids still in diapers, Walmart is a great go-to in a pinch! We were out of diapers this week and Walmart+ came to the rescue with a 2 hour delivery. Same with groceries and produce! Walmart+ always gives the option for same day delivery, and since “same day” are two of my favorite words, Walmart has quickly become a favorite. Don’t forget to sign up for Walmart+ HERE, free shipping, no order minimum. 

For groceries:

Check your address to see if free delivery from your store is available at your address.($35 minimum. Restrictions apply.) I checked, and my address qualified, yay! 

Non-grocery items:

As for everything else like this rad snow cone machine, enjoy free next day or 2-day delivery. Don’t forget to sign up for Walmart+ HERE, free shipping, no order minimum required (excludes freight & Marketplace items). Sign up and let me know what you think. If you’re on the fence, start a free 15 day trial to try it out!

Big thank you to Walmart for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

 

Click on the images to shop:

Snow cone machine // Syrups // Reusable straws // Similar white dress // Faux Fur slippers // Shatterproof tumblers

.

WE GOT A NEW PUPPY

by Shalice Noel

The kids have begged me for 6 years for a puppy and guess what??

Tomorrow we pick up our mini golden doodle puppy. He is 8 weeks old and the breeder named him Lukas. We cannot wait to pick him up tomorrow.

If you live in Atlanta, there is a breeder in Woodstock, that has both males and females called GLITZY GOLDENDOODLES. Check out her adorable Facebook page. Can’t get over those pictures of tiny puppies. Honestly, it was hard to just pick one.

This week, we have been watching youtube videos on how to train our new puppy. We’ve also discussed with the kids their new responsibilities. It won’t be perfect but I’m adjusting my expectations.

We’ve bought snacks, raw organic food and a travel crate for him to sleep in.

Next up, will be agree on a name?

Stay tuned 😉

Since we don’t know what we’re doing, please weigh in with any puppy training advice that you may have learned. Looking forward to sharing more of this new adventure!

5 TIPS TO GETTING A NEW PUPPY

1 Keep expectations low – be realistic, you won’t be getting a lot of sleep with a new puppy. You and you puppy will be adjusting to a new life and schedule.

2 Give him/her a safe place to play and sleep. We bought this crate.

3 Roll up your nice rugs!

4 Buy bells to place at the doors. Train the puppy to ring the bell to go out to potty.

5 Buy Apple bitters and spray on the furniture legs and lamps (with wires) before you get the puppy. This is key. We wished we did this before we got Lucca.

Tee shirt // Jeans // Sunglasses // Puppy crate

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