Friday, June 28, 2013

Freebies on Friday - June 28, 2013

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Enjoy these free e-books and samples. See you on Monday!


15 Minute Breakfast - Quick Healthy Breakfast Recipes Made In Just 15 Minutes (15 Minute Recipes)

We Use Coupons, You Should Too! How Couponing Saved My Life

Weight Watcher Guru Heavenly Desserts Points Plus Recipes (Weight Watcher Guru Series)

Real Clever Ideas and Solutions: Helpful Hints and Tips to Save You Money and Time

Free Lance Crackers - Get a coupon for a box of 8 packages of crackers at Walmart.

Free Cabinet Safety Latch Starter Kit - to keep little fingers out of the cabinets.

Free Arm and Hammer Sensitive Toothpaste - from the makers of Orajel

Free Sephora make-up samples - select up to 3 different samples

* Please note the ebook links are affiliate links but at the time of this publication all the books were listed as free on All the remaining links are not-affiliate links and I am not compensated for sending people to any of them.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Throwing a Party on a Budget

The kids and I have been out running errands all day and thankfully they have been getting along. We are getting ready for a big 4th of July Party all on a very tight budget.

So here's how we are doing it.

We've been getting a little bit each week, so that we won't have a whole lot to buy the week of the party. One week we bought hamburger meat and hotdogs. Another week we bought sodas which we found on sale at Target for $1 (2-liter bottles). Yet another week we bought the ingredients we need for potato salad, macaroni salad, desserts, etc.

The key is to add it into your normal grocery budget or set aside extra money to purchase all the stuff you need at once.

I've gotten all the decorations from my fave store, Dollar Tree. I picked up tablecloths, banners, and balloon weights. I always pick up plain colored items, when possible, because they can always be used for other occasions. Red tablecloths can be used on Valentine's Day or 4th of July.

We do not have a dishwasher, so parties are the only time I purchase disposable utensils and plates. All of which I got at the dollar store. I want to spend time with my guests not standing over the sink washing dishes so we can have forks for dessert.

Ask Guests for Help
We have a huge extended family and if you are invited to a cook-out, picnic or party you are expected to bring a dish. By asking your guests to bring something small like a side dish, dessert or drinks. Where do you think BYOW (Bring Your Own Whatever) came from?

Start Early
Though this doesn't have to do with budgeting your money it does have to do with budgeting your time and that is to get as much ready for the party ahead of time as possible. Clean, cook and set out as much as you can ahead of time, so you aren't rushing around the day of the party.

So that's how we plan for a party. Please feel free to share your tips below. I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Week #4 on Weight Watchers 360


This is week #4 for me on Weight Watchers 360° and I'm down 2 more pounds. Not too shabby :)

I wanted to mention something that has really helped me this week. It's to eat more fruits, veggies and whole grains.

Have you ever found yourself saying "I just don't feel full"?  Well, I did all the time. I really never felt full. I could just keep eating and eating all day. Then I realized that what I was eating had almost no nutrients in them. Foods like potato chips, cookies, cakes, etc.

I noticed on Weight Watchers I would run out of points pretty quick and still feel hungry, so I started eating more fruits and veggies that were 0 points. I'm a huge fan of bananas, cantaloupe, watermelon and broccoli, so it wasn't too hard to eat them more often.

I would actually feel full (well almost), but I felt much more satisfied when I finally switched my regular breads for whole grain. They had a better taste and finally filled me up.

I started off slow by switching my mini bagel at breakfast from regular plain bagels to whole wheat. Plus I added a fruit or veggie to every meal.

Not a fan of fruits and veggies? Maybe you just haven't found the one you like - there are tons to choose from. One idea is to go to an all-you-can-eat restaurant and sample different ones until you find one you like. The same goes for different types of breads and pastas.

You may be thinking that fruits and vegetables cost a lot more than prepackaged foods. That is true, but it takes less food to fill you up when it is full of nutrients.

So bottom line your fruits and vegetables! Just like your parents and grandparents have been saying all along.

* This post is sponsored by Weight, but ALL opinions are completely mine and 100% honest. These are my actual experiences and feelings about following Weight Watchers 360° online program.

**  People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

5 Favorite Free Summer Printables

Here are a couple of the really cute printables I found in my searches online lately.

Summer Bucket List by Three Little Monkeys Studio
This is really cute. There are 115 fun things to do. Lots of really great, well-rounded ideas. There is also a blank printable to add your own ideas.

Summer Fun Passport by Well Created Life
This is great for all ages. It's a printable passport that kids can use this summer or any in the future since it's undated. It even has a sticker page that you can print out.  Love, love, love this one.

Summer Checklist by EastCoastMommyBlog
I thought this was really cute. Love the colors and my kids really liked the activities listed. We especially liked the outdoor movie night.

Summer Bucket Coloring Page by Pen and Paint Blog
My kids really liked this. Even the older ones. They could color it any way they wanted. They also liked being able to create a list of stuff they want to do this summer.

Adorable Bucket List Tags by
These are so cute and easy to make. This one you need to like her Facebook page to access the printables. I don't usually include ones that require a Facebook page, but these were pretty cute.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Downside of Using Free Blog Templates

This has been a really rough weekend. My phone broke, the television broke and my template for my blog disappeared. Yep...completely disappeared!

The downside of using free blog templates is that the owners of the image can remove them from the web and you, in turn, your blog. Usually with no notice to the users. I know there's an easy solution to the problem. Buy a custom or pre-made background or template.

There's one thing with pre-made blogs and templates - you need money to buy them. They cost anywhere from $35 to over $200 and that just isn't in the budget right now.

Don't get me wrong I would love, love, love a blog design of my own. It's one of my long-term goals for this blog.

Sorry for the complaining!  On to something a bit more productive and useful.

So ... here are a couple really great sites that offer free blog background in case you are in the market for one.

I would personally recommend using a background where you download the image to your computer and upload to your blog. I don't recommend having the image hosted somewhere else for the simple reason listed above.

Well bye for now. Have a nice evening and see you tomorrow!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Freebies on Friday - June 21, 2013

I've included a couple e-books today that I think you may enjoy. One that my son said we don't need I let you guess which (hint, games). Also included are a couple free samples.

Hope you had a great week! Have a nice weekend and see you on Monday!


The 30 Day Organizational Course: How To Organize, Declutter, and Keep Your Home Spotless In Only 30 Days


Wake Up Successful - How to Increase Your Energy and Achieve Any Goal with a Morning Routine

Traveling With Kids: How to come home with a memory and not a migraine. DeClutter, simplify, and enjoy parenting while traveling. (Travel Well)


Pedia-Lax Probiotic Yums Sample - These help support digestive health in kids 2-11 and is strawberry flavored. Might be a nice alternative for kids who don't like yogurt, but need some help in this area.

Schick Hydro Disposable Razor for Men or Women 

Lysol Touch of Foam Soap - This one is only available in certain areas. Just enter your zip code and see if you qualify.

Personalized Pen - If you have your own business or work for a direct sales company you can request a personalized pen with your name, business name and phone number. From National Pen.

* Please note the ebook links are affiliate links but at the time of this publication all the books were listed as free on All the remaining links are not-affiliate links and I am not compensated for sending people to any of them.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Technological Difficulties

I want to apologize for my blog posts coming so late in the day lately.  See during the school year I had time to work on my posts on my daughter's laptop anytime I wanted. Now with all three kids home with me - we are all fighting for time online and buying another laptop/computer right now is not an option.

We are still a one income, one vehicle and one computer family and we're fine with that. It's still the first week of summer break for my kiddos, so we are still creating our own routine.

Thankfully, their grandmother is taking them to an amusement park tomorrow with some friends and I will have the whole day to hopefully write and schedule some posts. Many posts like my Weight Watchers ones will still need to be updated that day just like my Freebies on Friday posts.

So basically I'm asking you to please bare with me as we are trying to get our summer routine together.

Thanks so much for your understanding.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Week #3 with Weight Watchers 360

This is week #3 on Weight Watchers 360 and I've lost right around 4 lb this week. Not too bad if you ask me. I'm pretty happy with it.

The one thing I've found most helpful is using a food log. Both times on the Weight Watchers' diet I've used their mobile food/activity tracker. (see photo below)

I list EVERYTHING I eat on there. Even if it's just one cookie or a couple grapes. If I eat it - it get listed.

I like that I can see how many points I have left at any time throughout the day via my phone. I can record foods and activities while I'm out. Most importantly I can see how many points a food will cost me.

My only complaint is that you cannot add recipes to the mobile app. For example, I ate enchiladas last night that I made from scratch and I needed to add it by adding the recipe online. No big deal really, but it had to wait till I could get online. This is a little annoying when you are eating at someone else's house and they make something. In that case I usually find something similar that's already listed in their database.

If you prefer paper and pencil log there are plenty of free printables you can find online. Just make sure you record everything you eat. The little snacks here and there are what ruin your diet. All those little calories add up.

Well bye for now and see you tomorrow.

* This post is sponsored by Weight, but ALL opinions are completely mine and 100% honest. These are my actual experiences and feelings about following Weight Watchers 360° online program.

**  People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Favorite Rainy Day Activities

It's raining off and on all day today, so I created a list of rainy day activities my kids could do because, of course, they're bored. LOL

Balloon volleyball
This one only requires a balloon (not helium) and something to be the net. We use a cushion or coffee table to be the net. I like this activity because it gets the kids up and moving.

Be a Star
Create your own movie. Lots of kids have their own iPod or DSi which allows them to record short videos, but most smart phones record videos as well.  The kids can dress up in costumes to put on a play or maybe show off their latest artwork, creations, or video game skills.

Arts and Crafts
My kids really like this Giant Rainbow Collage. We also have fun making stuff out of duct tape. Some of our faves are wallets, bags, covering notebooks, and pens/pencils. Another craft we have fun with on rainy days

Pitch a Tent
When it's been raining a couple days we like to set up a small tent in the living room and let the kids have an indoor "camp out".  They get out their sleeping bags, create a pretend campfire and eat marshmallows.

Cooking Up a Storm
When it's raining outside we bake up some cookies or a cake. Something fun and delicious. We get all messy and have a blast. Plus it makes the house smell good.

These are just a couple of my favorite rainy day activities that I do with my kids.

Monday, June 17, 2013

First Official Day of Summer

Today is my kids first official day of summer vacation and I've already experienced a complete meltdown, the "I'm Bored" complains, and the "Why can't I play on my iPod all day" questions. Really?!!

I'll admit it. This morning I let the kids sleep in (so I could sleep in, too).  I let them play their video games this morning while I got in the shower and all ready for the day.

However, I had lots to do today. Cleaning up after a weekend of messes, balance the checkbook, do the laundry, and lots of other normal household chores.  The kids wanted to sit around in their pjs all day playing video games.  Call me a mean old mom, but I don't want my kids to become couch potatoes all summer. I wanted to start the summer off right.

So for the first official day of summer vacation I had planned for them to play in the swimming pool, do one small workbook page (2-3 minutes of work tops), and maybe play some games.

They obviously had other plans.

Well after one major meltdown from my boy who didn't want to do any kind of work this summer and a temper tantrum from the cat after I cleaned his litter box. We managed to get onto my plan and with a low and behold they actually had fun. Shocker! (sarcastic)

I rounded up the family and laid down the plan so they know what to expect each day. A tiny bit of work in their workbooks (bridge from 3rd to 4th grade and 5th to 6th grade). Play in the pool or outside on the trampoline if it's nice. A craft or project of some sort and maybe a movie at night after dinner or sooner if it's rainy.

That left lots and lots of free time to play whatever they want and have some friends come over too. I'm hoping this isn't a sign of how the summer will turn out. Wish me luck!

So how is your summer going so far?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Freebies on Friday - June 14, 2013

Hello everyone! Hope your week is going well. Today I have 4 e-books for you and a couple printable Father's Day items. Enjoy and see you on Monday! Have a great weekend!

Betty Crocker 20 Best Summer Drink Recipes

How to Be Happier Right Now: 48 Fast-Acting Human Happiness Hacks

From Our Home Vegetable Garden: Growing and Storing Fresh Food for Family Health and Wellness... Inspiring, Low-Maintenance Vegetable Gardening Advice, Tips and How-To for Beginners

The CVS Drugstore Game: Strategies to Turn Pocket Change into Thousands of Dollars Worth of Free Products

Fathers Day Coupon Book Printable by - this is an adorable tool box full of tools that you can attach coupons too.
Printable Father's Day Checks  by Hoover Web Designs. Write your dad a check for one free breakfast in bed or lawn cutting.
Father's Day Cards to Print and Color by Just print out a card, color it and hand it to your Dad. Great for kids.

* Please note the ebook links are affiliate links but at the time of this publication all the books were listed as free on All the remaining links are not-affiliate links and I am not compensated for sending people to any of them.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Apps I Can't Live Without

Today I would like to share a couple apps that I just can't live without. I'm on them all the time and find them either fun or useful.

This one comes standard on almost all phones. Besides keeping your family and friend's address, phone numbers and birthdays, some apps let you add a photo. On my iPhone this app allows you to add a note at the bottom of the person's contact page. In the note section, I put my contact's kids' names, anniversary date, and gift ideas. For my hubby, I put all his current medications and doses in that section.  This way I always have the info with me in case of an emergency room visit. Let me tell you some of those medications have long names.

Storm Shield Weather Radio App
Love this! It notifies you when there is a weather event in your area. Tornado, severe thunderstorm, flooding, etc. You get a text or message on your phone - no matter where you are in the United States. That way if your power is out in your home you can still know what's going on outside and keep your family safe. Let's face it, the weather has been pretty crazy throughout the U.S. lately and this app can help.

I'm on this one everyday. It's how I connect with family and friends. We share photos and stuff happening in our lives.  It's a nice way to send a message to friends, distant family and acquaintances. There are also games you can play with friends, famous people you can follow, causes you can donate/help and lots more. Find me on Facebook: "Kimberly Butler-Shavatt"

This one is really fun. I really enjoy taking photos and here is an app that lets me share them with others. Great for someone wanting to improve their photography skills. Practice makes perfect (or better at least). This is an app for beginners to expert photographers or anyone who is just goofing around with a camera like me. Follow me on Instagram at "shavattk"

This one is quite addictive. You are able to add pictures from all over the web to "boards" you create.  Almost anything you want. Some ideas include: DIY/Crafts, My Dream Home, Vacations I Plan to Take, and My Style. Plus you can follow other people's boards and re-pin their items to your boards. It's a great way to collect ideas. Follow me on Pinterest at username "shavattk".

Skee-Ball 2
This one is just a fun game. I've love skee-ball since I was a little girl. I even have an actual skee-ball game at home and now I have one on my phone to play anywhere I wish. This one lets you earn tickets and purchase little prizes. You can even tilt your phone to make the ball move different directions.

A classic card game that never gets old. It keeps your brain sharp. You are able to play with one card at a time or three at a time. It's fun because you can even customize the back of the cards with a photo from your camera roll.

All these app are available on the iTunes app store and are possibly available on other phones as well. Everyone of these apps are fr*ee except the Storm Shield which was $4.99 as of this morning.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Week #2 with Weight Watchers 360

This is my second week on Weight Watchers 360 program. I must confess I didn't follow it very closely a couple days. I was busy celebrating my 40th birthday and my 16th wedding anniversary this week. There were dinners out, cake and ice cream too. To be honest I kind of gave up for a couple days.

The good news is I'm back on the plan and motivated to lose the weight. Plus I didn't really gain any weight being off the plan for a couple days. I even lost a couple inches.

So I know I've mentioned in a previous post that I couldn't afford Weight Watchers, I want everyone to know it really isn't that expensive if you catch them having a sale.

Right now Weight Watchers is having a sale (through 6/29/13).  It costs $1 to sign up if you purchase a 3 month savings package for online memberships. The total comes to $57.85 for 3 months membership after that it's $18.95 a month. If you just wanted to sign up for one month you would pay $48.90 ($29.95 sign up fee and $18.95 for first month).

For less than $20 a month you get access to loads of online tools. (Does not include meetings).  That's only $5 a week. It's less than the cost of one meal at a fast food restaurant.

Plus you also get a FREE Summer Starter Kit if you purchase a 3 month online membership by 6/29/13. It includes:
  • Summer Success booklet - with weight-loss tips, tools and strategies
  • Entertaining Guide - with menus and tips for 4 classic summer celebrations
  • Exclusive Tote Bag
  • Weight Watchers coupons
I have to honestly say their program does work when you stick to it. I've lost over 50lb in the past using their program. It wasn't hard once you got used to it. Once it's a routine - it's pretty easy.

Well I'll write about my journey again next Wednesday. Wish me luck! 

* This post is sponsored by Weight, but ALL opinions are completely mine and 100% honest. These are my actual experiences and feelings about following Weight Watchers 360° online program.

**  People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tips for Traveling With Kids
Whether you are traveling by car, bus, train or plane, if you are traveling with kids, you will need these helpful tips to keep your kids content during the trip.

First of all you need to keep them busy or occupied.

I've traveled by car with my three kids since they were born and there's one thing we absolutely can't live without.  It's a portable DVD player.  They are pretty inexpensive. You can find one on sale for $40.

I select a couple movies that are gender neutral such as Finding Nemo, Shrek, The Incredibles, and Monsters Inc. When you let the kids chose you run the risk of arguing because the movie is too girly, etc. Boys don't usually enjoy watching princess movies and vice versa.

In addition to watching movies each kid has a binder that includes various printable games, activities, coloring pages and a stash of crayons, pencils, etc.

Here are a couple of the ones I really like.
License Plate Game Printable
ABC Game Printable and I Spy Bingo Game Printable Plus lots of helpful tips.
DIY Magnetic Board Games
Printable Hidden Picture Puzzles
Coloring Page Printables

For each kid create a box/bag full of serving-size snacks that they enjoy. Preferably non messy snacks they can eat by themselves. Some ideas include snack baggies full of gummies, trail mix, m&m's, goldfish, pretzels and raisins.  If you have little ones let them pick out one snack every couple hours.

Kids get cranky when they are forced to sit for long periods of time. To avoid the crankiness - take lots of breaks so your kids can get out and stretch their legs.  If you are driving, find a rest stop and let your kids run around after using the restroom. Bring along a beach ball, Frisbee, jump rope, etc.

Let you kids know where you plan to stop ahead of time. Consider giving them a map to follow your route as you go. This will help stop some of the "Are we there yet?" and "How much longer?" questions.

I remember when I was young my parents would leave our home in the evening, so my siblings and I would sleep most of the way. My parents would take turns sleeping and driving.  It helps to bring a small blanket and travel pillow for each child if you hope for them to sleep during the trip.

Monday, June 10, 2013

4 Fun Science Experiments for Kids

Over the weekend I was searching the web for fun science activities to do with my kids when they start their summer break next week. Here are 5 of my favorites.

1. Sparkly Explosion by Preschool Powol Packets. This is a really easy experiment that is fun for all ages. Using the same ingredients as a baking soda volcano, but more colorful and less time consuming (no volcano).

2. Solar S'mores by Butter With A Side of Bread.  This is fun and delicious. They offer a easy to follow tutorial with lots of pictures - which always helps.


3. Newspaper Chair by The challenge is to make a chair that someone could actually sit in from only newspaper and some tape. 


4. Egg Sucked into a Bottle by Kids Science This one definitely need adult supervision because it involves matches, but it's really neat.

I chose these experiments because I have kids finishing up grades 3, 5 and 7 and these appeal to all three of them. Some of the experiments may not be appropriate for younger kids. As always use your best judgment as a parent.

If you decide to try these, feel free to share your results by leaving a comment below.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Freebies on Friday - June 7, 2013

Happy Friday everyone!

This week there are 4 e-books and 4 free samples for you. After seeing so many commercials for Luminosity on TV, I'm kind of interested in reading the Brain Training e-book.  I'm also looking forward to spanning the "101 Almost Free Things to Do with Your Kids This Summer". As for the samples, I've used the Vlasic coupons at my local Wal-Mart and it worked like a charm. 

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. See you Monday!


101 Almost Free Things to Do With Your Kids This Summer

The Vegetable Container Gardening Guide: How to Grow Food in a Container Garden

31 Hot Summer BBQ Recipes: Beat the Heat with These Amazing Recipes

Brain Training: How to Optimize Your Brains Effectiveness (Live Optimized)

Free Vlasic Relish w/coupon at Wal-Mart courtesy of
3M Scotch-Brite Botanical Disinfecting Wipes
b-liv by cellnique free skin care sample pack of their large pores, blackheads, or treatments kits.
Krispy Kreme Donut Free donut on 6/7/13 only for National Donut Day.

* Please note the ebook links are affiliate links but at the time of this publication all the books were listed as free on All the remaining links are not-affiliate links and I am not compensated for sending people to any of them.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

My Garden is Finally In

A little late, but my vegetable garden is finally in. It's not as large as I usually have, but I'm happy with it.

Each year I plant a garden. Nothing terribly big, but I grows enough to feed our family of 5 with plenty to can for the winter. That saves us big bucks on veggies throughout the year.

This year I have 5 tomato plants (Early Girls), 4 hot banana pepper plants, 1 sweet banana pepper, 3 cucumber plants (Boston Pickling), 2 green pepper plants, and an assortment of seeds that will hopefully grow.

I chose a really sunny spot. It gets full sun from 11:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. Sorry for the crappy photo - you really can't see much from that distance, so I took some close-ups.

In the back row along the lattice are my tomatoes and in the front are my cucumbers. My youngest is really hoping for lots of little cucumbers to make into pickles.

On this side I planted all the different types of peppers. The blank spots are where the seeds are planted. I even planted my daughter's lima bean seeds from her plants from school. You can read that post here.

Here's hoping I will have lots and lots of canning to do this summer. I can't wait :)

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

My First Week on Weight Watchers 360

I mentioned last Wednesday that I started Weight Watchers' 360° Program and yesterday I finished up my first week. To be completely honest, I'm a little disappointed. I only lost 1.3lb!??

I was really expecting to lose more than that. I've cut my food intake quite a bit, followed the program to the letter and didn't even use all my weekly points (28 remaining) or even touch my activity points (32 available).  I also did a lot physically - helped relatives move, got my garden ready for planting, and more. I even cut out my diet soda and juice drinks and stuck strictly to water.

I know, I know 1-2 lbs a week is perfectly healthy, but last time I lost 5lb the first week and about 7 the second week. Then it tapered off to 1-2 lb a week. It was a nice jump start.

After entering my updated measurements into their weight tracking tool I realized I lost inches. Last time I used Weight Watchers (on a previous program) I would lose weight one week and lose inches another. I'm okay with that.

One thing I do want to mention is all the delicious recipes they have listed on their site. You can even sort them by points value and meal or prep time. Just check out this amazing Mexican Breakfast Burrito. OMG!!! and only 6 points.


Overall, I'm satisfied with the actual program. They offer a mobile food/activity tracker that I find very convenient. I'm definitely going to stick with it because I know it works for me.

* This post is sponsored by Weight, but ALL opinions are completely mine and 100% honest. These are my actual experiences and feelings about following Weight Watchers 360° online program.

**  People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Inexpensive Ways to Make Some Feel Special on Their Birthday

Who doesn't want to feel special on their birthday?

It doesn't have to cost a small fortune to have a nice birthday party that your special girl/guy will remember for years to come.

To start off with there are 3 main things you need at any good birthday party: food, activities, and gifts. However, you also need one very important ingredient - attention.

The main thing people want on their birthday is attention and to be made to feel special, loved, and appreciated. That doesn't take much to accomplish but it does take some of your time. Birthdays only come once a year and it's a time to celebrate their life so far.

At the minimum, you will need cake or cupcakes with a candle or two and don't forget the ice cream. Cupcakes made to look like cakes are all the rage right now, but we still use an old-fashioned homemade cake. Homemade is so much cheaper especially when you can find a boxed cake mix on sale for $1 and icing is also $1 at your local dollar store.

If you are having the party at your home it is common to have some other finger foods or snacks for people to munch on along with a small variety of drinks. We make it easy and put out a couple 2 liter bottles of soda that we purchase when they were on sale.

Another option to having people come to your home is to have the group meet somewhere for dinner. This works best when you only have a small intimate group otherwise it could get expensive real fast.

Treat the birthday girl/guy to a fun activity. Some suggestions include: going to the movies, roller skating, horseback riding, camping, fishing, etc.

Inexpensive activities could include having a picnic, hiking, have guests create a "favorite memory" book and then reminisce, go to a local park, or go for a bike ride if you own a bicycle.

Gifts don't have to be expensive, but they should be thoughtful. Think about what that person would actually want or need.  Don't always take the easy way out and buy gift cards unless they specifically ask for one. Gift certificates say "Hey I have no idea what to get you and don't feel like trying to figure something else out".  A small thoughtful gift will be more memorable years from now.

Let your guest of honor be the focus of the day. Do things they like to do and eat what they like to eat. They only have one birthday a year - help them feel special and loved.

Now that you have the food, activities and gifts figured out go plan a terrific birthday your friend or family member will remember and enjoy.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Easy Banana Nut Bread

Easy Banana Nut Bread

1/2 cup margarine (1 stick) - softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cup mashed bananas
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 9" X 5" loaf pan.
Mix margarine, sugar and brown sugar till smooth.
Beat in the eggs, then bananas, vanilla and cinnamon.
Add flour and baking soda just until combined.
Pour into loaf pan and top with some chopped nuts.
Bake for 1 hour (or until a toothpick comes out clean).
Remove the bread from the pan and let cool.

This recipe was adapted from one I found on You can find the link here. I've made a couple changes including adding the chopped nuts on top.