What To Do With Free Samples

What to Do With Free Samples 650x982

In this line of work, I am the recipient of a lot of samples and free products. Whether it’s a brand who’s at a conference and wants to get their product in my hand, or part of a campaign I’m working on with a few additional perks sent from the client, my cupboards are overflowing with full and trial size products. Enough to keep us stocked up for a while. In an effort to purge and sort through everything we have in our cupboards, I’ve come up with a few ways to use them up. Below are a few ideas on what to do with samples and freebies.

What To Do With Free Samples - gift ideas, stocking stuffers, or travel supplies 650x431

What To Do With Free Samples

  1. New Homeowners Gift – Create a gift basket for new home owners with cleaning essentials they’ll need! Fill a cute bucket or basket with cleaner samples, wash cloths, squirt bottles.
  2. Guest Bathroom Essentials – If you frequently have guests over in your home, create a basket with guest bathroom essentials that you can easily grab when friends or family come into town. Fill a cute container with the essentials one needs when they’re away from home! Include some tooth paste, soap, deodorant, a tooth brush, shampoo and conditioner, etc.
  3. Baby Shower Gift – Since I write about parenting, some samples were more baby-related and didn’t really have any use in my house (before I had baby #3). So I would collect them and use them as extra gifts for diaper cakes and baby shower gifts.
  4. Stocking Stuffers – a few things I get are the perfect stocking stuffers for my nieces and nephews. I have a box with gifts that I keep in the closet and add to it whenever I think something might be better for another friend or family member. I also add a sticky note to it so I remember that I have it saved for them!
  5. Take On the Go! – Whether I’m travelling with the family or solo, or the kids are heading over to Grandma’s house for the weekend, I take any duplicates of products that we use and organize them in the cupboard to grab quickly while we’re packing for our next adventure. It helps that I have them already sorted and ready to go depending on our needs.

Whether you’re reusing your samples as gifts, or saving them for a trip, there’s always a way to use up the samples and freebies you get when you’re at events or conferences! And if that doesn’t work, consider swapping with a fellow blogger or friend for something they might want to get rid of!

How do you use free samples?

How To Make Confetti Eggs + Cute Easter Outfit Ideas

With Easter right around the corner, these confetti eggs are a great way to celebrate. With the help of our sponsor, Kohl’s, we’re sharing how you can make them at home! This post is sponsored by Kohl’s.  I was paid for this post and received the included Carter’s clothing as compensation.

Every year for our kids school festival the most popular booth for the kids is the confetti egg booth. Now before we went to our first festival, I had no idea what confetti eggs were. Then my husband explained it and shared how his grandmother would have egg cartons and eggs all over the house because she’d make confetti eggs all throughout the year in preparation of their school’s festival. 

Guess what? I’ve turned into that person. I may or may not have stashed egg shells in egg cartons all around the house to start getting ready for confetti eggs. And with Easter coming up, it’s time to start making them! Good thing these are super easy to make and fun for the kids to get involved. 

While we’re on the topic of Easter prep, in an effort to get ahead of the game, I had the girls come with me to Kohl’s to pick out some cute outfits for Easter. This year instead of the pretty dresses they normally turn to, they decided to chose more comfy, playful outfits in beautiful spring colors. I love how these Carter’s outfits we picked out allow the kids to play and create without being limited or uncomfortable. 

You can check out a few of the looks we chose below! 

How to Make Confetti Eggs

What you’ll need: 

  • eggs
  • butter knife
  • bowl
  • tissue paper
  • confetti
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • egg dye or markers (optional)

What you do: 

1. Taking your egg, carefully tap the top of the egg in a circle with butter knife. Once tapped around the top of the egg, remove egg shell from top. Using knife, scramble the egg in the shell a bit and pour out into bowl. 

Rinse egg with water and let dry completely. Scramble up the eggs and enjoy a protein-filled snack! 

2. OPTIONAL: Once egg has completely dried, you may decorate your egg with markers or egg dye. We just leave ours the same color as the eggs. 

3. Fill egg with confetti about 1/2 to 2/3rds of the way full. 

4. Cut out squares and/or rectangles out of your tissue paper. Then, using the glue stick, add glue to the edges of the tissue paper square. 

5. Add tissue paper square to top of the egg to cover the hole completely. Let dry and then enjoy going crazy with the eggs! 

Cute Easter Outfit Ideas

Looking for some outfit ideas for Easter? We’ve picked out some cute outfit ideas you can pick up at your local Kohl’s or online from the Carter’s line. How cute are these? 

We’re huge Carter’s fans. We’ve been clothing our kids in Carter’s since they were first born. No, seriously! Each of their newborn outfits was Carter’s brand. I love that I can get the girls coordinating outfits since many of the outfits and pieces I found come in both toddler sizes and kid sizes. Perfect for siblings!

From 3/17 – 4/2 you will $10 off a $40 Carter’s purchase with promo code KIDSALE10! Take advantage of this great deal and score some adorable outfits for the kids. Win-win, right?

shirt | shorts

outfit 1 | outfit 2

shirt | pants

outfit 1 | outfit 2

Have you made confetti eggs before? 

My blog may contain links to other websites. I am not responsible for the privacy policies of those other websites. When you click on a link, your information may be collected by those websites so I encourage you to read their privacy policies. These affiliate links are not associated with Kohl’s.

Irish Soda Bread Biscuits Recipe

Irish Soda Bread Biscuits

I love a good breakfast scone. Perfect with coffee and tea and fills me up! With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner I thought I’d take one of my family’s favorites and turn it into a mini version.

This Irish soda bread biscuit recipe is not only simple but can be made with ingredients found right in the pantry.

If you’re looking to start your day off with the luck of the Irish then this biscuit is for you!

Irish Soda Bread Biscuits Recipe

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

5 from 3 votes
Print

Irish Soda Bread Biscuits

Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 229 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter diced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk see note if you don't have buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375. If using stoneware, place stoneware in the oven while it's heating up.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Work in butter by hand. Make sure to use your fingers to mix it into the dry ingredients.
  3. Add in the raisins and buttermilk and combine together with your hands. Pat out the dough and form into a disk about 1 inch thick.
  4. Divide the disk into 6 equal pieces and roll into 2-inch rounds. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.

Recipe Notes

If you do not have buttermilk, grab some low-fat milk and vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar). Combine 3/4 cup milk with 1 teaspoon vinegar. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.

Irish Soda Bread Biscuits RecipeIrish Soda Bread Biscuits Recipe mixing

How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?

This post was first featured on this site on Feb 10, 2013.

Looking for more St. Patrick’s Day fun? Check out these activities and recipes! 

DIY Shamrock Shirt

Rainbow Cupcakes

 

Vanilla Mint Sugar Scrub

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace

This DIY nebula in a jar necklace tutorial is a fun and easy way to get your daughter involved in STEM based crafts. 

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace Tutorial

We’re pretty big on STEM learning here. With a passion for sharing the love of science, technology, engineering, and math with our kids, we’re always trying to figure out how to incorporate STEM activities in our daily lives. 

This craft was great for STEM learning because it opened up the doors of communication with my kids about space, stars, and constellations. Not only did we talk about where stars came from (nebulas – which lead to a whole other conversation about the birds and the bees) but we waited until dark to count the stars and find constellations. We also talked about the full moon and moon cycles since we just had a full moon. Let’s make some nebula in a jar necklaces!


DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace with stopper

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace

What you’ll need: 

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace supplies

What you do: 

1. Cut cotton balls into small strips and set aside. 

2. Add water to the jar, about 1/3 of the way up. 

3. Using the small stick, add a few drops of one color paint to the jar then add some cotton ball pieces to fill up 1/2 of the jar. 

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace - use a syringe to add water DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace - use a stick to add paint and cotton ball

4. Sprinkle some glitter into the jar. 

5. Add a few drops of the contrasting color paint and some more cotton. 

6. Fill with water but not to the top. Leave room for the stopper. 

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace close up DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace add glitter DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace glue stopper to bottle

7. Grab the glue and the stopper with eyelet. Add a dab of glue to the eyelet and screw into stopper. 

8. Add glue to stopper making sure to cover all around the bottom 1/2 of the stopper that will be touching the jar when inserted in. 

9. Place the stopper in the jar and let dry for 24 hours. 

10. Add jar to necklace cord and put on! 

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace craft

How do you promote STEM learning with your daughter? 

DIY Nebula in a Jar Necklace

Interested in more science-based crafts and activities? Check out these fun projects: 

For Preschoolers:
DIY Bouncing Ball Craft

DIY Bouncing Balls

For School Agers:

How to Inflate A Balloon Using Science

How To Inflate A Balloon Using Science

For Older Kids:
How To Make A Glass Vase Out Of A Coke Bottle with roses

How To Make A Vase Out Of A Glass Bottle

This article first appeared on A Crafty Spoonful on July 22nd, 2016. 

Not So Extreme Couponing: Money Saving Tips for the Everyday Mom

With the budget we’ve set in place we’ve limited the funds we have for things like eating out and grocery shopping. So we’ve had to become quite frugal in the way we spend our money on food and necessities. One of the ways that has helped me reduce my grocery bill quite drastically is by shopping with coupons. I thought I could share my “method” with you. 

It’s not a breakthrough new plan, it doesn’t involve anything complicated and it saves me at least 40% on my grocery bill every week. And when I pair this plan with meal planning each week I am able to stick with my budget and create a healthy menu for my family.

Here’s how I prepare for a grocery shopping trip:

Writing My List

A grocery list is a must when it comes to shopping on a budget. It helps me stay focused and only buy what we absolutely need and it also helps me gauge how much the shopping trip will cost.

When writing my grocery list I first look in the fridge, freezer, cupboards and pantry to see what we have on hand already and what we might need. Then I write a meal plan for the week’s dinners based on what we already have. I double check my meal plan and the food we have on hand to make sure that I haven’t forgotten anything that will cost us a trip to the store later in the week. Meal planning helps us save money by not spending anything extra on going out to eat.

I also keep a pad of paper and a pen next to the pantry so I can write down the things we’re getting low on or that we use up as the week goes by.

Browsing the Sale Ads

The first source I go to when planning out my weekly meals and grocery list are the sales ads that come in the mail once a week. I go through each store’s ads, circle what we need, and compare prices at the three major chains in the area. I do this while sipping my coffee and eating breakfast with the kids. If there’s something I think they might like I ask them. My son has gotten great at circling what he wants too!

I adjust my meal plans based on what is on sale. By being flexible with what we eat for dinner I’m able to save  big on seasonal items that go on sale at certain times of the year. I can also help stock up the freezer with family favorites. 

Online Couponing Sites

There are a few sites that I love to browse while looking for deals at the grocery store. One is CouponMom.com. CouponMom.com not only has links to online coupons but it also has coupon deals listed by state. I simply select the state I live in, and the grocery store I shop at, and I can see all of the current deals advertised as well as the coupons I can match with the current sales to get the most for my money.  

I use my store ads and grocery list to pinpoint what items I’m looking for and where the best deals are in my area. I can gauge where I can purchase a product for the cheapest price and then re-organize my grocery list by the store I purchase the product at.

Another great source for deals are couponing blogs. There are hundreds of blogs out there dedicated to finding you the best deals around. They are also great for pointing you in the right direction when a company has a coupon on their website or social media site. I follow quite a few couponing blogs via facebook and through Google Reader. 

Clipping Coupons

After I’ve seen what’s on sale at the store, I grab my stack of coupons for the week. I receive coupons in four ways:

  • Sunday’s newspaper
  • In the mail once (or twice) a week
  • Online (Coupons.com, RedPlum.com, Target.com, Company websites, Facebook deals)
  • My mother-in-law – she’s awesome and brings me her coupons each week!

I don’t cut any coupons out until I know what I’m going to buy. And I browse through the coupons first to match potential deals with my grocery list and store ads. I do this to limit the amount of coupons I have floating around and to make sure that I’m not doing any extra work.

Once I’ve cut out what I need I organize the coupons by the store I’m going to. I put my shopping list for that store around the coupons and keep it in my wallet. When I’m ready to go to the store I just grab my list and coupons and I’m ready to go! This makes it very easy for me to shop at different stores because if I pass a particular store during the day while going about our daily activities I can stop in and pick up the things on my list without wasting gas by going to three different stores at once.

Any coupons that aren’t used go into my coupon holder. I organize them by Dairy/Eggs, Snacks, Pantry Goods, Refrigerated/Frozen, and toiletries/miscellaneous. I keep this coupon holder with me in my purse when we’re running errands in case I run into something I have a coupon for and need. This also comes in handy when we find things on clearance at the grocery store or at Target and it wasn’t on our list. 

Checking Clearance Items

When I am at the grocery store I always stop by two places when I’m done picking up all of my items. I check the clearance meat section and the clearance racks at the back of the store (usually by the back doors to the store’s warehouse).

The clearance meat section is a section for meat that needs to sell within the next two to three days. The use or freeze by date is quickly approaching and the stores want to get it off their shelves fast so that they can sell the meat coming in. The best part about these meats is that the date they go off of is the use by or freeze by date. Since we have an extra freezer in our garage we can stock up on meats that go on clearance. As a note, I always use up these meats within a month of purchasing. I’m sure they’d last longer but that’s our family rule.

The clearance racks at the grocery store are just like the clearance racks at the department stores. The store is trying to phase out items that are taking up space on their shelves. And I’ve found some amazing deals here. I check the clearance rack for bread, sweets, miscellaneous food items and toiletries. Day old bread is perfect for french toast casserole and other delicious meals!

A few months back I was able to find Earths Best organic baby food for $5 a flat and they had three flats. I also had two Earths Best coupons with me so I bought two. I ended up paying around $0.15 for each jar of baby food. I made my own baby food most of the time but wanted a quick and easy solution for meals on the go. Talk about a deal!

So by writing my list and sticking with it, checking the ads and deal websites, clipping coupons, and browsing the clearance items I’m able to really make the most of my grocery budget. I’ve been able to cut our grocery bills in half with this method and it takes maybe 1/2 an hour from my day.

What do you do to save money on your grocery bill? 

This article was first featured on February 24th, 2012.

DIY Moana Bangle Bracelet

This DIY Moana bangle bracelet is a fun and easy craft the kids can do. Let them personalize their bracelets with their own choice of Moana-inspired charms and wear it proudly as they sing along. 

Who else has a HUGE Moana fan at home? While you’re in luck. Moana is coming out on DVD next Tuesday!! We received an early copy for review and my girls have been playing it non-stop since it came in the mail. And the 6-year old asked to buy the soundtrack. How cute is that? Don’t worry, dear daughter, already done! 

To celebrate the release of Moana on DVD on March 7th, we’ve made a fun DIY Moana bangle bracelet for each of the girls. I purchased bulk charms and bracelets from Amazon so they could make a few and then let them choose a few special charms during a visit to Michaels. Surprisingly Norah wanted the exact same charm Molly did so they went with plumeria flowers. But you could find something more suited to your likes for the “star” charm. 

This post contains affiliate links. 

Moana Bangle Bracelet

What you’ll need: 

What you do: 

Take charms and loop over hook edge of the bracelet. Circle around and up to add to the bracelet. 

Add as many or as few as you’d like to create the look you want! 

That’s it! How simple is that? Oh, and if you want to pre-order a copy of Moana, grab it here

What’s your favorite part in Moana? 

Here are some fun activities to do with the kids while you’re making your bracelets:

Download Moana Island Crafts

Looking for more fun? Check out these awesome posts:  

Aloha Hawaiian-Themed Baby Shower

Kakamora Ornaments

Easy Mardi Gras Masks for Kids

Can anyone else believe how fast this year is going? It’s already Mardi Gras and Lent is right around the corner. Now we don’t do huge celebrations for Mardi Gras but we do love letting the kids get involved with some masks and beads. And while the big kids get to celebrate Mardi Gras at school with some Mardi Gras bingo, the little one and I stayed home and made some masks. 

These mardi gras masks for kids are super easy to make and take only a few supplies to put together. Don’t have paint? Use colored construction paper or felt and trace your child’s hand to cut out. Don’t have a paper straw? Use a dowel, stick, or unsharpened pencil for the holder instead! Crafting with the kids means using what we have on hand to have a little fun. 

Here’s how we made these:

Mardi Gras Masks for Kids

What you’ll need: 

  • white construction paper
  • purple and green paint (can also use gold)
  • hole punch
  • scissors
  • paper straw (or unsharpened pencil)
  • feathers and pom pomps
  • tape
  • glue

What you do: 

1. Paint your child’s hand with one of the two colors you’ve selected. Take your construction paper and put it long ways in front of your child. Have them put their handprint on the paper. Clean off your hand. 

2. Repeat with the second color and second hand. Make sure that the second hand print butts up against the first (you can overlap as well). 

3. Let hands dry. 

4. Cut out dried handprints. 

5. Using a hole punch, punch a hole for the eyes on either side. Then line holes up with eyes and cut out bigger eye holes. 

6. Tape straw and feathers to back of mask and glue pom poms onto front of mask. Let dry. 

Enjoy! 

Do you celebrate Mardi Gras? 

Tips to Keep Teen Drivers Safe + a New Teen Driver Kit

Have a new teen driver? We’ve put together a new teen driver kit with help from our sponsor, Mercury Insurance, to help keep teen drivers safe on the road.

This past week one of my youngest siblings passed her driving test and will be on the road with her license. And with the stats I’ve been seeing lately, that scares me! The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 2,524 teen drivers and passengers were killed and 177,000 were injured in 2013. And with mobile technology and the use of mobile apps steadily increasing, distracted driving accidents are also on the rise.

To commemorate this milestone, though, I’m hoping to share some tools with her that will help keep her as safe as possible. That’s why I put together a new teen driver kit for her to utilize when she’s on the road. Complete with items like a hands-free phone stand, mobile charger, and other items that may come in handy (jumper cables!), I hope she feels more confident on the road when she’s driving alone. 

In addition to my new teen driver kit, I have the help of our sponsor, Mercury Insurance, and their Drive Safe Challenge. The Drive Safe Challenge is an interactive website that provides teens with safe driving and vehicle tips, as well as gives parents tools to help encourage responsible driving behavior. 

The site features:

They don’t just want to help teens, they also want to educate them (and their parents) about the dangers and responsibilities that come with getting a driver’s license. Apply the brakes on the leading cause of death for teenagers and share what you learn from the Drive Safe Challenge website with a new teen driver you know.

What To Include: New Teen Driver Kit

  • storage container (to hold everything)
  • booster cables
  • drink cup 
  • microfiber towels
  • portable charger (for any device)
  • flashlight
  • cleaning wipes
  • phone car mount (hands free!)

Make sure to print out a copy of the Mercury Insurance driving contract parents and teens can sign to set the rules of the road and outline the circumstances under which driving privileges would be lost. It makes the perfect addition to this kit! 

Do you know a new teen driver who’s about to hit the road? 

DIY Shamrock Shirt with 4-Leaf Cover Stamp

When the kids are home on a weekday because school is out we find an excuse to craft! And with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, we decided to make a festive t-shirt for my daughter to wear to school on the holiday. With a cardboard roll, some q-tips, and green paint, you can easily make a shamrock shirt in 30 minutes. 

And, if your child is as excited to craft as mine was, you may also end up with a rainbow and pot of gold over your four leaf clover too! Painting with q-tips is fun and using items from around the house to create things allows the kids to think outside of the box! We share some more tips in the Facebook Live video we did below: 

DIY Shamrock Shirt with 4-Leaf Cover Stamp

What you’ll need: 

  • white shirt
  • green paint (plus rainbow colors if you want to add a rainbow)
  • cardboard tube
  • q-tips
  • hot glue gun
  • scissors

What you do: 

1. Cut cardboard tube into 4 sections. 

2. Make a heart with each section by flattening the tube and turning one point into itself.  

3. Glue all 4 hearts together to form a shamrock. 

4. Position shamrock onto shirt. Using the q-tip, dot green paint onto shirt following the shamrock outline. 

5. Add a rainbow, pot of gold, or sun to your shirt to finish it off. 

6. Let dry fully before wearing. 

How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? 

Looking for more ways to celebrate? Here are some great recipes to check out! 

Irish Soda Bread Biscuits

Rainbow Cupcakes

5 Reasons to Check Out The LEGO® Batman™ Movie Days at Legoland California

The bat-signal is out – will LEGO® Batman™ save the weekend? On Friday, tundreds of children and LEGO® Batman fans raised placards creating a human bat-signal at LEGOLAND® California Resort officially kicking off The LEGO® Batman™ Movie Days on February 18-19 and 25-26. The signal was a success as LEGO Batman made an appearance surprising guests in attendance.

Our family was invited to check out the festivities and boy did we have fun! With guest appearances from their favorite movie characters, to fun activities and more, checking out the LEGO Batman Movie Days at Legoland California was the highlight of our weekend. 

5 Reasons to Check Out LEGO® BATMAN™ Movie Days at Legoland California

During The LEGO Batman Movie Days, guests will get a chance to: 

  1. Meet LEGO Batman
  2. Search for villains during a scavenger hunt in Miniland U.S.A.
  3. Build their own batmobile to race against other guests
  4. Test their inner model builder skills by helping create a life-size LEGO Batman and LEGO Robin 
  5. Help build a special mystery mosaic mural inspired by the film

The LEGO Batman Movie Days activities are included in the price of admission to LEGOLAND California Resort on the weekends of February 18-19 & 25-26.

Legoland Batman stunt at Legoland California on Friday, February 17, 2017.(Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Legoland

Who’s your favorite LEGO Batman Movie character?



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