Check out Live. Eat. Save. Simplify!

Hey! Amy here. It's been almost 3 years since Meagan or I posted on this blog. We have both been busy with life, kids, work, etc. However, I'd like to invite you to come over and check out my new blog at www.liveeatsavesimplify.com! It will focus on eating well, saving money, simplifying live, and many other things! Thank you for continuing to read the posts here, we really appreciate it!


IPSY Glam Bag Reveal - June 2013

June 2013 IPSY Glam Bag Reveal. I made this video a couple weeks ago and forgot to link it. :)


How to save BIG on a new carseat

Everyone knows that I am "thrifty" (AKA cheap) but one area where I will not compromise quality are car seats. I don't mind buying things secondhand, but when it comes to carseats I would rather be safe than sorry.

I recently found two car seats on a yard sale site for a VERY good price. They were nearly $300 each new and the seller was asking $40 each. I considered it but ended up deciding that it wasn't worth it. The seller told me that the seats had never been in an accident, but I didn't know the person and I had no way of knowing if that was true or not.  They didn't expire for several years, but it wasn't a risk that I was willing to take. I am not going to make this post about carseat safety, there are many other guides out there about carseat safety and I am not an expert. If you are parent, PLEASE educate yourself about carseat safety. I really didn't "know better" when Kainan was younger and I did a lot of dumb things like forward facing him too early and probably not properly installing his seat. If you don't know how to use your carseat correctly, just ask! Someone will be able to help you.

It is important to remember that a more expensive car seat does not mean a safer car seat. All car seats in the US pass the same safety tests. The higher cost of more expensive can be due to several things. Sometimes seats have more expensive materials, or convenient features. Other times a more expensive car seat will rear face or harness for a larger age/size range. If you have larger children like I do, they will probably outgrow a cheaper seat before they are physically ready to be in a booster seat or seat belt.

So what are some ways to save on car seats without compromising quality?

  • Skip the infant seat. Yes seriously! They can be an added expense that just isn't necessary if you buy a convertible seat. I'm not a fan of leaving a baby in an infant car seat all day anyway, it isn't good for their development. I am not buying an infant seat this time because my babies used them for such a short amount of time. If you are worried about how to carry your baby while out and about, buy a Moby or another safe carrier instead (hint: you can get cheap much cheaper used! Some things are totally safe to buy secondhand.)
  • Do surveys or sign up for swagbucks! You can cash our your rewards for Amazon gift cards. It shouldn't take very long to add up enough points to buy a car seat. If you start when you are pregnant, you can definitely get one before your baby is born.
  • This is the exact seat that I got!
  • Check out deal sites like No Better Deal, I just discovered this site and it is AWESOME. I bought a brand new Recaro ProRIDE Carseat for under $135!! Just as a comparison, this is the exact same seat on Amazon. I had already decided to buy this seat, and I am glad that I waited and found a deal, I saved almost $100! I also used the promo code "WELCOME" and saved an extra 10%. I also spotted a Graco MyRide 65 for $74. Mikaela has one of these and we paid over $130 for it. There are other "good" carseat brands like Britax at great prices. I also saw car seats from brands like Evenflo and Graco for under $40. They had infant seats and booster seats too. 
So there are plenty of ways to save money while making sure that your child is as safe as possible. If you have any money saving tips on car seats, I would love to hear about them! Leave a comment and let us know. 

**Note** I don't get any kind of kickback from any of the links on this page (except my referral link through SwagBucks.) I am just sharing these deals!


DIY Compost Bin

I haven't been blogging much lately, but I actually have a good reason! I am having a lot of pregnancy problems (again) and have been pretty limited on what I can do. I haven't been doing a lot of projects lately, but this one is pretty fun! Maybe I just say that because I'm not really the one who did it. We had some extra dirt and no where to put it, so my husband decided to build a compost bin. My husband works a lot but has taken up woodworking a little bit in his spare time (something that his dad does too.) I wasn't able to find very good plans for building a compost bin, so we guessed. I don't recommend trying to do math in your head at 8AM, we ended up forgetting something and having to go back to the lumber yard. 

The Materials: 
  • Chicken wire, 12 feet (3 feet high) and we had extra so 10 feet would be enough
  • 2x4 - 32 feet (10, 10 and 12 feet, I don't recommend getting 12 feet unless you have a very large vehicle, we had to tie ours down.)
  • 1x4 - 20 feet (10 and 10)
Total Cost: Around $40. This could be cheaper if you could find a discount lumber yard, or use scraps. He had just used most of his scraps to build a shelf for our laundry room, so we had to go out and buy new materials. $40 is still a good price. We bought a $50 plastic compost bin at Sam's Club a few years ago and it fell apart in a few months. This will last a lot longer. 

I should have taken more "in progress" shots, but I wasn't feeling well and he got a lot done in a short amount of time.
Almost finished.
 Close up
This is where we decided to put it. As you can probably see, our yard is on a VERY steep incline. This was the only place other than the backyard (which would be very inconvenient from the kitchen) to put it. 
It might look a little unstable but it actually isn't at all. 

It only took a couple of hours and it turned out pretty nice. Now I just have to remember to stop throwing the compostable things away. :) 


End of Year Teacher/Staff Gift Ideas

My son's last day of school was yesterday. He was so excited to be out, but wanted to do something nice for his teacher. I knew I had to find something reasonably inexpensive and easy to make. We decided on a decorated flower pot with a plant. Here is a loose tutorial on how we made it. I know this is probably too late for most parents, since schools are out or almost out everywhere already, but hopefully if you like the idea, you can use it next year. Just an FYI, I did not take these pictures with the intention of writing a tutorial, so I'm sorry that some steps are missing pictures.

Decorated Flower Pot

* Terra Cotta Pot
* Acrylic Paint (black, yellow, white, and 1-2 other colors)
* Sponge brushes
* Small paint brush
* Flexible measuring tape
* Pencil
* Plant or flower(s)
* Soil

How to Make it:
1) Paint the rim in yellow. This will probably need 2-4 coats depending on the shade of yellow you use. Allow 15-20 minutes to dry between coats.

2) Once the yellow is completely dry (at least 1 hour), start painting the lower portion of the pot black. The black will probably need 2-3 coats to completely cover the pot. Try and make the cleanest line possible along the rim where the yellow is. It will look nicer. 

3) While the sides are drying, you can flip the pot over and start painting the bottom. You don't have to do this, but I think it looks nicer this way. The bottom only needs 2 coats. 

4) Take your measuring tape (a sewing tape works great) and wrap it around the rim of the pot. Tape it in place in at least 3 spots, so it doesn't fall off during this step. (Sorry, no pictures for this step.)

5) Now you are going to mark every inch and half inch on the pot with the pencil. You don't have to write the numbers, just put the lines. Depending on what size pot you are using, you may have to fudge the last few lines if they don't line up right. (Sorry, no pictures for this step.)

6) Once your lines are on your pot, remove the tape. Now go over the lines with a small paint brush in black paint. I think you could also use a thick permanent marker if you wanted to. Once all of your lines are filled in black, you are going to write the numbers under the "inch" lines you marked. Start with 1 and continue all the way around the pot. It doesn't matter what number you end on. I think mine ended on 26.

7) Now you need to decide what you want to write on your pot. I suggest you use white paint for words, if you want it to look like chalk on a chalkboard. We wrote "Thanks for helping me GROW" on one side, then put my son's right hand print, then wrote "Luke, 2012-2013" on the other side, then put his left hand print.

Finished Product: 

She absolutely LOVED it when we gave it to her yesterday! She couldn't wait to take it home and show it to her husband. We also wrote her a little thank you note for being such a great teacher this year. 


May 2013 IPSY Glam Bag - VIDEO


This is my first month of the IPSY Glam Bag subscription. I am really happy with it! If you'd like to check it out, here is my referral link:  http://www.ipsy.com/?refer=u-hfmwvd42imp5ix


Why Use Wool Diaper Covers?

If you are new to cloth diapering or if you are considering it, you may be curious about wool. Wool is used as a cover for cloth diapers. Wool covers can be in the form of soakers, shorties, longies, and a few other options. There are many variations of wool covers, but they all do the same thing. Wool keeps sheep dry, and it can keep your baby dry too! Wool is very breathable, so it even can be worn in the summer months. Wool that has not been chemically treated is not scratchy at all, it is actually very soft. Wool is able to absorb moisture without feeling damp, so it is ideal for heavy wetters, for naptime, or for bedtime. You can even use wool over a disposable diaper! Wool is naturally anti-bacterial, and doesn't have to be washed as often as other fabrics. I know that sounds gross, but it really isn't! If your wool gets damp, you just hang it to dry and any smell will dissipate. If it doesn't, it's time to wash!

Washing Wool:

Washing wool isn't as difficult as some people think that is is. There are many different methods for washing wool. If you buy your wool from a company or work-at-home mom, the wool will usually come with instructions. Some people wash their wool (especially interlock) on the "wool" setting on their washers with a gentle soap. Most hand wash with either special wool wash, or a simple chemical free baby shampoo. I will put up a more detailed post of various washing and re-lanolizing methods at some point.

Types of wool covers:

Knit or crochet: Crafty moms can make their own wool covers if they know how to knit or crochet. There are many work-at-home-moms who make and sell knit (or sometimes crochet) wool covers. 

Interlock: Wool interlock covers are very popular. They tend to hold up very, very well. They can be bulkier than other options, but they also can work the best.

Recycled: Recycled wool is made out of recycled sweaters or other materials. Recycled wool is one of the cheapest options, especially if you know how to sew. 

More About Wool:

As you can see, wool covers can also double as clothing. Wool pants (or longies) can be worn over a diaper and used as pants. Wool soakers can also be worn underneath clothing or pajamas without adding a lot of bulk. Other types of wool clothing include skirties, leggings, dresses and just about everything in between. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of using wool over other types of diaper covers?


Wool is the only type of cover that is anti-bacterial
Wool absorbs moisture, unlike other covers wool rarely leaks
Wool is a natural material and is gentle against babies skin
Wool is a very "green" and sustainable product
Wool covers can be very budget friendly, if you are crafty


Unless you make wool covers yourself, they typically cost more than other covers
Some people have allergies to wool 
Wool requires more upkeep than PUL or fleece covers

If you have never tried wool, I strongly recommend that you give it a shot! Wool, like most parts of cloth diapering, has a learning curve, but once you learn you can save a lot of time and effort because it really does eliminate a lot of laundry by preventing leaks. Do you use wool covers? If so, what brand is your favorite? I love Wild Coconut Wear interlock covers, but there are many other brands and lots of work-at-home-moms that make great covers too.

Organizing Kids Clothes

I am not going to pretend like I have all of this figured out, I don't! I am working on a system to keep my kids clothes purged and organized. With two kids and one on the way, the clothes really start piling up. I spent a few hours purging and organizing my kids clothes last weekend. This is what I came up with.

The best advice that I can give is that you probably don't need as much as you think you do. I have really simplified my kids clothes and it works a lot better. Go through your kids clothes and ask yourself these five questions. 

1. Do you love it? If yes, keep it. If no, go on to #2
2. Do your kids love it? If your kid has a ratty t-shirt that they LOVE, keep it. It's special to them. Get rid of something else.
3. Does someone else love it? Will they see it again? If Great Aunt Gertrude from somewhere far away bought your little girl a terrible dress, take a picture. Take a picture, send it to Aunt Gertrude (or put it on Facebook) and get rid of it. 
4. Does it fit? If it is too small or just a bad fit, the answer is obviously to get rid of it/put it away.  
5. Does it match anything? If there is one item that you love but doesn't go with anything, you should either get rid of it or buy something for it to go with. If your goal is to purge, get rid of it!

Now that you have a pile of clothes to get rid of, separate them into three more piles. One to keep for future or younger children, one to give away or sell, and one to toss. Throw out anything that is really worn or ratty, donate or sell anything nice, and keep the nice stuff if you have younger children of the same gender, or plan to have more. I read somewhere once that you can't really pass kids clothing down because they wear them out too easily. This is NOT always true. Believe it or not I have some clothes that my son, my daughter, and my nephew have all worn and they are still in good shape and waiting for baby #3. If you are keeping clothes for younger children, I advise putting them away in tubs or boxes and getting them out of the way. Otherwise they might make their way back into the mix of clothes.

I do a LOT of laundry. I cloth diaper. I am potty training a dog AND a daughter, so we use a lot of towels to clean up accidents. My husband works two jobs and has two dirty uniforms on most days of the week. It's a lot of laundry. Because of this, I don't really need my kids to have 100 outfits. I went through the clothes that my kids have and got rid of a lot. This is what I ended up with for my son:

Underwear/sock drawer. I have learned that white socks are horrible. If you want your kids to easily pair their own socks, colors or print are the way to go.
Pajama drawer. I got rid of a bunch, how many PJs does a kid really need??

Shorts. Play shorts, "nice" shorts, and swim shorts.
Pants. Jeans on on side and non-jeans on the other side.

Shirts go in the closet. There are a few different sizes here but they all fit him or are a little big. I have regular/play shirts on the left and his nicer shirts (yes, polo's are as nice as we get around here) on the right. 
In the back of his closet are long sleeved shirts that I expect will fit him this fall, along with a jacket. I also have a few things hanging up in the very back that are much too big. I always buy in advance out of season because it saves a ton of money!
I keep Kainan's dress up clothes in a bin under his bed. He has some super hero costumes/capes in here. 

Kainan has a large dresser, so half of it stores baby clothes. This drawer has bibs, socks, hats and woolies (cloth diaper covers) for the new baby.
The other drawers have baby clothes by size. This is newborn and 0-3 months. The other two drawers have 3-6 months and 6-9 months. I am keeping anything above 6-9 months in a large bin in my laundry room for now.

 Well there it is! My daughters room is pretty similar. She has a few more things because 1) she is a girl and 2) she goes through clothes a lot quicker than he does. She is a little mess! I will take pictures of her room in another blog post. She has a lot more "big" clothes saved for later, because I recently found some really awesome deals on 3T and 4T girl clothes. They do have extra clothes at each set of grandparents house, but I think this is a good amount to have here. I am going to try to keep on top of getting rid of things that we don't need or use. I am going to tackle toys next. 

One more piece of advice. When buying clothes, think ahead. I recently bought this outfit for my daughter. The shirt is a 4T and the shorts are 3T. The shirt fits her more like a dress right now, but I think it's cute and you can't tell. The shorts fit great over a cloth diaper (if underwear she could wear a 2T, but she isn't ready for underwear yet.) I purposefully bought this outfit too big, because I know she can wear it again next year! She can wear the shirt as a shirt, and the shorts should still fit since she should be potty trained for a while by then (let's hope.) 

It's hard to tell here, but the shorts are the same color as the top of the shirt. From the Old Navy outlet (on sale, of course)

I hope this was helpful! It's a learning process but hopefully this will make laundry and dressing the kids a little bit easier. If you have any tips for organizing kids clothes, I'd love to hear them!


Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop Review

Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop Review: 

We recently did some renovation and purchased new hardwood bamboo floors. The floors look awesome when they are clean. The problem is between two kids and a dog, they get dirty really quickly! Anyone who has ever had hardwood or laminate floors knows that they start looking dirty before carpet does. That doesn't mean that carpet isn't just as dirty (gross) it just hides the dirt better. I had been using a Shark Steam Mop in my kitchen and bathrooms, but it just didn't cut it on the wood floors. I found the Rubbermaid Reveal on Amazon for $39.99. I was going to buy it on Amazon, but then I found it at Target (in store) for $19.99! The only difference is that the mop from Amazon comes with two microfiber pads. I don't know about you, but I don't think that one extra microfiber pad is worth $20. If you find the same deal at Target, you can always buy an extra pad on Amazon here for under $6.

How did it work?

I LOVE this mop!! Is it weird to love a mop? Oh well, I guess I am weird. I used to have a Swiffer mop and I HATED that you had to either use their solution (yuck) or go through a huge hassle to use your own. With the Reveal mop, you can choose whatever solution you want to use, or make your own. I love this because you can easily use different solutions for different floors. I also love how well it swivels and that the mop itself is pretty wide. I will definitely need to purchase an extra microfiber pad, but they are pretty cheap. I don't really have any complaints about the mop, it work great! It doesn't spray too much liquid, so the floors dry quickly.

If you are looking for a new mop, I highly recommend this one! It is definitely the best of it's kind that I have tried, especially for the price. I strongly prefer this mop to my Shark steam mop. I will probably use the steam mop only in the bathrooms. The Shark mop is narrower, which seems like that would mean more work. I do have a cheaper version of the steam mop, but it still cost over $50 and this mop was under $20. If you can find this at Target (or maybe Wal-Mart) fo $20, it is a great deal!

**NOTE** This is my personal opinion and experience with this product. I purchased it at full price and have not been compensated by Rubbermaid in any way.


Today's Lunch: Gluten Free Lunch Ideas

This is a new blog feature that I am going to try to post 2-3 times per week. I will simply show you some gluten free lunch ideas. This is something that I have been asked about. They will usually be for kids, but sometimes I might post my lunch too.

Today's Lunch:

Gluten free chicken nuggets, smiley face fries, green beans, organic ketchup

This was Miki's lunch, Kainan's was exactly the same, but no fries (he doesn't like them.)

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