Posted 06-22-2017 at 09:52 AM by Jessica
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a successful and fun birthday party! Here are 10 tips for planning a party on the cheap…
1. Set a budget: The most important thing about starting a party is your budget. Set the maximum limit of your budget and do not spend more than budgeted.
2. Guest list: The amount of money you spend can vary greatly depending on the number of guests. If you do it only for a small group of children your expenses will be much lower and if you consider that there will be adults, obviously the expense will be greater.
3. Date and time: The schedule is very important, plan it after lunch or after dinnertime so you can prepare only snacks, appetizers and other light foods. That way you can leave more free room in your budget for other things.
4. Location: The cheapest option is your house or in the house of a family member or friend – or if weather-permits at an outdoor park. If you choose to rent a place like a club house or a party room do it during the week and at earlier hours, as that will also reduce rental costs.
5. Using disposables: If you want to use disposable items for cups, plates, utensils, and tablecloths try to buy them at your local dollar store, or buy with coupons during a sale. And don’t throw out the extras, save them for the next time.
6. Food options: If you decide to have a lunch or dinner party ask your close family or friends to help you by bringing a favorite dish or snack. That way you aren’t spending as much and you will have a larger variety of foods. Plus, the dishes can be a great conversation-starter!
7. Drinks: Do not consume soda if you have the option of preparing fresh waters with flavors. Aside from being healthier, it can also be less expensive. Also, put names on the cups so the children and adults will keep their own, and prepare ahead of time to make your own ice.
8. Cake: Instead of shelling out a fortune on a cake from a bakery, try your hand at making your own! You can snag a box of cake mix for a couple bucks and whip up your own frosting from ingredients in your pantry. A couple dollars worth of sprinkles and fun candles will be all you need to make a cute cake.
9. Invitations: Do not spend money on paper invitations. Instead, use social networks like Facebook to create your own event with all of the details on your party. It’s easier to see who can attend this way, and all without spending a single dollar.
10. Decorations: Get creative with finding decorations for your theme. Balloons are fairly inexpensive, and can make a room feel very festive. You can also use decorations from a previous holiday or party, or ask to borrow decorations from a friend or family member. Remember not everything has to be of excellent quality; if your budget is limited there are always good options that don’t break the bank.
Posted 06-20-2017 at 12:24 PM by Jessica
When it comes to vinegar – I’ve always been totally clueless. I have hardly touched it for cooking, let alone used it to clean! Pinterest came around and helped to change that, though. Suddenly I saw pin after pin that exposed me to all of these uses regular old vinegar could have when it came to cleaning your home!
The one cleaning solution I was most anxious to make was one that involved Dawn soap in order to create a shower glass cleaning spray! My shower has always driven me nuts since we have such hard water where we live, so it always looks insanely dirty. And yes, I have invested in a squeegee, but that didn’t always cut it! I’ve tried half a dozen different shower-specific cleaners, and they usually left me inhaling chemicals without even accomplishing much! Because of that, I decided to give the vinegar shower-cleaning solution a try… and LOVED it.
I wish I had taken before and after photos to show you just how nicely this solution works! Anyways, it’s super easy to make – simply mix 1 part Dawn with 1 part white vinegar and pour into a spray bottle! Spray your shower down and let sit for at least a couple of minutes. Scrub the heavily soiled areas lightly, and then rinse clean and watch with amazement as the hard water deposits, dirt and soap scum disappear!
Posted 06-19-2017 at 02:22 AM by Jessica
Oftentimes, when people mention eating out they mention how expensive it is, and a lot of times, they’re totally right. However, there are various ways that you can save money when eating out so it’s not such a huge burden on your wallet!
Here are just a few of my favorite tips…
1. Find promotions and discounts
Groupon always has lots of great discounts for restaurants, and it often forces you to try out somewhere new! Also, lots of places offer days where kids eat free, and sign up for emails to score birthday discounts (lots of places offer up a free entree for the birthday boy or girl), free appetizers and more!
2. Share meals
Instead of ordering an entire kids meal that your kiddo likely won’t eat more than 3 bites of, just get a few dishes that the whole family can share! Just be aware that some restaurants may charge an extra fee for sharing plates.
3. Skip the soft drinks
Ordering soft drinks (or coffee or juice or tea) for everyone in the family is going to add up quickly – you could buy a whole liter of soda for around the price of one glass at a restaurant. Instead, have everyone opt for a water! Not only is it healthier, but your wallet will thank you.
4. Save the leftovers
Never be shy about asking for a to-go container to take home the rest of the bread or the last few bites of pasta. You’ve paid for all of it, so don’t just leave it behind!
5. Go during lunch hours
Either choose to go out for lunch instead of dinner, or go for an early dinner! Lots of restaurants offer great prices on lunch specials.
6. Skip the appetizer
You’ll likely get plenty of food with your entree, so unless you have a coupon for a free appetizer, or it’s your favorite part about that restaurant, steer clear. Ask for extra bread or a basket of fries to munch on instead.
Posted 06-17-2017 at 03:31 PM by Jessica
If you’re looking for authentic and super delicious Mexican Enchiladas, you’re in the right place. This recipe belongs to my suegra (mother-in-law) who is from Mexico City, Mexico. She is an incredible cook, and her enchiladas are to die for. I’ve always made my enchiladas by using the oven to cook the rolled up tortillas with the meat, sauce and cheese, but the authentic way is a bit different – you don’t use the oven at all!
Okay, let’s get to it! Here is her recipe for Enchiladas Verdes – translated from Spanish to English just for you!
- 3 chicken breasts
- 1/2 large onion
- 1 pinch salt
- 3 or more serrano or jalapeño chili’s (depending on how spicy you’d like it)
- 25 tomatillos
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 branch of cilantro
- 20 to 25 corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- Shredded or crumbled fresh cheese (mozzarella or queso fresco work great!)
- Sour cream, avocado, cilantro
Cook the chicken with onion and salt in boiling water for 25 minutes. After it is thoroughly cooked, strain out the chicken and shred it. Be sure to reserve the water and onion for later use.
In a separate pot, cook the tomatillos and chiles for 5 minutes in boiling water. Then in the blender, add the reserved water and onion and liquefy the tomatoes and the boiled chili peppers along with the garlic cloves. Pour pureed salsa back into stockpot and bring to low boil.
Pour the oil into the bottom of the frying pan and heat it up so that you can fry the tortillas lightly on each side (do not leave the tortilla in the oil for a long time).
After, dip each fried tortilla into the boiling salsa, then place on a plate and put the chicken on top of the tortillas placed on the plate (1 or 2 tablespoons will be sufficient) and roll them in. Pour additional sauce on top of the enchiladas, and finally, adorn with crumbled or shredded cheese, onion, cilantro and sour cream to taste. ENJOY!
Posted 06-14-2017 at 10:00 PM by Jessica
Summer is officially HERE! Well, in terms of school being out it is. The first official day of summer according to the calendar is the June 20th, so we’ve got just a bit longer to go. As soon as the weather gets warm enough I transition from my boots, flats and sneakers to nothing but flip-flops. I’m honestly a very lazy person. So much so that even the thought of taking a few extra seconds to strap on sandals is enough to keep me wholeheartedly addicted to flip-flops.
Even if you aren’t a huge flip-flop wearer like I am, I doubt you’ll be able to resist how cute these flip-flop wreaths I’ve found are! They are the perfect symbol of summer, and you can usually score them for super cheap at Walmart or during a sale at Old Navy! Take a second to look through the following tutorials – then get crafting!
A few of my favorite flip-flop wreaths…
You can make this fun flip-flop “wreath” welcome sign in under 30 minutes! Now that’s my kind of craft! Head here for detailed instructions.
Head here for a tutorial on this style of flip-flop wreath. There are 6 different flip-flop wreath themes that A Day in the Life with TJ has crafted, from Patriotic to Wild Colors!
This last wreath is also super inexpensive to make, and has a cute flower in the middle! Check it out here.
Posted 06-4-2017 at 03:23 PM by Jessica
As much as I love berries, they can also be a big pain. I find that unless they’re all eaten within a few days they go bad and I’m forced to throw them out. It’s particularly sad when I know I spent nearly $5 on a tiny carton of raspberries, and they’re all going to waste! In order to prevent that from happening again, I did a bit of research and have come up with 3 tips that can help make sure that you never have to toss out moldy berries again!
Buy when on sale: It’s rare to find a coupon for berries, but if you do, run to the store and use it! Also, check the weekly ads from your favorite grocery stores to see if anyone is offering up a sale. When the prices have been cut on the berries you like, stock up! Don’t worry, even if you grab 5 packages of blueberries, I promise none of them will go to waste if you follow the other 2 steps…
Vinegar wash: I’ll admit, when I first came across this “vinegar wash” tip for extending the life of berries, I was skeptical. But now that I’ve tried it and have seen raspberries last in my fridge without any mold for nearly two weeks… I’m sold.
Simply mix 1 cup white vinegar with 3 cups water in a large bowl. Place the berries inside the mixture and let soak for at least 2 minutes. Afterwards, rinse off the vinegar and pat dry. The pH of the vinegar is what kills off any mold spores and bacteria – greatly extending the life of your berries.
Freeze: Place the amount of berries you expect to be able to eat in the fridge and then store the rest in an airtight freezer-bag. Berries stay good in the freezer for around a year! I love to add a cup of frozen blueberries to my warm oatmeal for breakfast, or I use the frozen fruit to make smoothies or berry pie!
Alrighty, that’s it! Let me know if you like these tips, and what YOU do to get your money’s worth when it comes to produce.
Posted 05-26-2017 at 07:37 PM by Jessica
Does the long list of ingredients in your dogs’ treats scare you a bit? Do you ever get sick of giving your dogs the same boring dog treats? (Okay, maybe they’re not really that boring, lots of them are actually really cool! I’m just trying to be persuasive here…) Do you want to give your dog an extra-special and good for them treat every once and a while? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then I highly suggest you try your hand at making some homemade dog treats! I promise they’re simple.
Here are two of my dogs’ all-time favorite treat recipes…
Pumpkin Apple Dog Treats
Have you heard about how good pumpkin is for dogs? It’s so great for promoting healthy digestion. These fiber-packed treats will probably become your dogs’ favorites in no time. Want the recipe? Click HERE.
Frozen Strawberry and Banana Smoothie Dog Treats
With each one of these recipes I’m always so tempted to try a bite… I mean, they’re all human-safe ingredients! They just don’t always happen to taste so great to us thanks to the lack of sugar. These Smoothie Treats though… they’re pretty close to yummy. Packed with nutrition from the fresh fruit, these are perfect for helping your pup to cool off on hot Summer days! Find the recipe here.
Let me know how your fur babies liked these! And if you have any favorite recipes, share them in the comments below!
Posted 05-22-2017 at 07:36 PM by Jessica
In the past month in Utah we’ve had our share of both 70 degree sunny days and a couple of snowstorms. Lovely Utah. Because of the roller-coaster ride Mother Nature puts us Utahns through during the Spring, it’s important to know what flowers are hardy enough to endure the cold weather we’re still experiencing in May if you’re interested in getting started on beautifying your yard. Because I’m the kind of person that runs to Home Depot as soon as they start selling flowers, I’ve had to do my research on cold-tolerant flowers that can be planted in the early Spring. Here is a list of a few of my favorites…
Pansies are my favorite early spring flower. These annuals come in so many different colors, and even different sizes, too! With all the variations, you could easily get away with simply planting pansies all over your yard, and still have it look incredible!
Ahh daffodils… If I had unlimited room I’m sure my yard would be overflowing with daffodils. These beauties prefer full sun, and lucky for us, they’re perennials so they will come back each year!
I grew up in a home with a massive lilac bush in our backyard. I remember the sweet fragrance it filled our yard with, and how gorgeous the flowers were! Because of that, I’ve always loved lilacs. Especially since they are okay with the chilly weather as long as they’re planted with full sun exposure.
4) Harmony and Acoma Iris
Like lilac, iris love full sun, and do well when planted in the early spring. These unique flowers would make a beautiful addition to your yard.
5) Grape Hyacinth
These I remember from my grandmothers’ garden. Her front yard was filled with these flowers. I love their unique blooms and deep blue-purple color! If you’ve never planted these, you need to give them a try!
Have you gotten started on planting in your yard? What flowers have you chosen?
Posted 05-20-2017 at 07:30 PM by Jessica
Did you know that strawberries are not actually berries? But pumpkins, bananas and watermelons are? It all has to do with where they fruit is grown on the plant! CRAZY.
Okay, on to the point of this post… I’m a huge salad fan, but not because I like lettuce or spinach all that much. I’m more obsessed with the dressings I lather the vegetables in. I’ve always been so used to buying my salad dressings at the store that it never really occurred to me that I could make my own. Salad dressing just didn’t seem like something that could be made by any average Joe like myself. Boy, was I wrong! Making salad dressing is SO easy. My favorite dressing is Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette, and I have the perfect recipe to share with you for making this heavenly stuff. I only put it on spinach for show (so that I don’t look nuts) though I’d be perfectly happy drinking this stuff straight!
Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Add the following ingredients to a blender:
- 1 cup strawberries
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tsp honey (add more if you’d like it sweeter)
Blend on low for about 30 seconds – until everything is well combined.
Done. Seriously, it’s that easy! I’m sure you have all of the ingredients right now, so go ahead and try it. OR, if you don’t have strawberries, or would rather use a different fruit, go ahead! I’ve only ever made this dressing with strawberries, though I’m sure blending up some raspberries or a different berry would be amazing. Let me know what you end up trying, and how you like it!
Posted 05-17-2017 at 07:29 PM by Jessica
Propogate… Now that’s a word I don’t use frequently enough…
Okay, onto the subject at hand. If you want an inexpensive way to fill your home with air-purifying and beautiful green plants, this is the way to do it! Simply find someone with a spider plant (I’m sure you know someone, they’re very common) or buy one for yourself and wait for it to grow little “spiderettes.” (The “spiderettes” are individual plants with roots, growing off from the main plant). Then take those spider plant “babies” and replant them! I have heard of multiple different ways of doing this, some involving letting the plants soak in water for a day or so, but I’ve never had any issue getting these plants to grow after simply planting them in a separate pot filled with potting soil.
Even though I’m sure the brief explanation is enough for you to manage this on your own, here are a few photos from when I did this last week:
Here is the holy mother of all Spider Plants. When I asked my mom if she minded me stealing a few of the spider “babies” she quickly said I could just take the whole plant. I’m not sure I have enough room anywhere in my house to manage this beast of a plant, so I politely declined her generous offer and stuck with grabbing a few of the “spiderettes.”
See the roots forming at the bottom even as these are literally hanging off of the main plant? As long as you plant them in some moist soil, they’ll grow immediately and become completely self-sufficient.
Viola! I simply added potting soil to my pots of choice, planted 2-3 “spiderettes” in each pot, and watered them! Hows that for an easy project?