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Thursday, August 21

Back To School Party 2014

back to school party 1

Two more weeks ladies, two more weeks! That is when all three kids will officially be back in school! This Staples commercial pretty much sums up how I feel about having my freedom back after months of kids constantly bugging me all. day. long. I am kidding (not kidding) of course but I really am happy to get back to the regular schedule. Except for homework. I am not looking forward to homework. 

To help get the kids back into the swing of things I like to throw a back to school party. You can see the one I did last year here. I collect vintage school themed items throughout the year and mix them with some fun kitschy things I find during my back to school shopping. 

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The Gumby/Pokey lunchbox you can see on the top shelf was my husband’s actual lunchbox from when he was a kid. How cute is that?

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I especially like the different colored composition books even though they aren’t vintage. They are so bright and festive! 

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I don’t get to flea markets very often because Ella is kind of a pain and wants to touch all the things when we go together, but on the occasions I do get to go, I make sure to keep my eyes peeled for vintage office supplies, old lunch pails, and other fun school themed accessories.

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As for the actual party decorations, I decided to be more colorful this year. 

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I found the gingham napkins at Target and the place cards are just labels I purchased from Staples. The plates are from Ikea.

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To make the place mat- runners I used a scroll of black chalkboard paper which I cut into two sections. Then I added brightly colored over sized paperclips that I found at Target. The large crayon was found in the dollar bin at Target as well. 

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I hope you enjoyed this peek into our Chez Glamorous family tradition of celebrating back to school time. Do you have a party to commemorate your kids going back to school? 

 

Wednesday, August 20

The $1000 Challenge: Transportation Savings

1000 challenge TRANSPORTATION

By Raki Wright

A few weeks ago, Bethany introduced this series on how to save $1,000 each month on your expenses. Over the next 10 months, our series will cover ten different monthly expense categories. My goal is to save $100 in each. The first category I reviewed was my transportation costs – car payments, insurance, taxes, maintenance, repairs, licensing, gas, etc.

In the $1,000 Challenge book, Brian shares three levels of intensity, from moderate to severe, when trimming costs:

  1. Freeing up cash by lowering costs.
  2. Making ends meet when you’re struggling by getting creative without damaging your credit.
  3. Pinching pennies so hard that Lincoln gets a headache because when you’re in dire straits, you need to preserve your cash and income while taking care of basic necessities.

I reviewed my bank statements to see exactly how much I’ve been spending in each of these areas. I found that the bank statement showed recurring weekly and monthly expenses like gas, insurance, maintenance, and repairs. I had to dig into my records for annual expenses like registration and taxes.

My “level of intensity” was freeing up cash by lowering costs. Thankfully, my expenses were already pretty low. Unfortunately, that gave me little room to save.

1000 challenge transportation

Gas

Our gas expense is higher than I would like, but I live about 20 miles from work and have kid drop offs. I normally get gas wherever is convenient on my path. If I intentionally use one of the Kroger fuel centers in my area, I can save around $0.15 a gallon. I changed my air filter and ensured that my tires were inflated properly. We’ll see if that provides any added fuel efficiency. For an even larger savings of $0.30 a gallon, I could patronize a locally owned gas station (not affiliated with any national chain). I’m not going to factor this into my savings because it depends on their quality. I can’t risk damaging my car for a few pennies saved on fuel ups. Be sure to check out the post I wrote if you are looking for more ways to save money on gas.

Savings of $42.90

Registration

The only savings my state offers is $1-$3 annually for renewing online on pre-paying for two to three years. My savings for renewing online – $0.08 each month!

Savings of $0.00

Car Payment

Neither my husband nor I have a car payment. I drive a 2002 Ford Explorer and my husband drives a 1991 Nissan Pathfinder.

Savings of $0.00

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Insurance

I requested online quotes with three other insurance companies. My current rate is better than all of them. I am not willing to drop the comprehensive coverage on my car, since deer seem to be attracted to cars I drive. As an added bonus, I added renter’s insurance to my plan, which results in a discount that covers its cost. SCORE!

Savings of $0.00 (+ Gained another insurance coverage.)

Maintenance

Neither my husband nor I are educated or trained in auto maintenance. Our best bet is to be on the look out for coupons in the mail or available on major repair shop websites. The best coupon I found was “Buy One Service, Get a Second Service 50%.” I would estimate that it would save me about $5 a month on each vehicle.

Savings of $10.00

Repairs

It’s hard to save on an expense you’re not sure you’ll have, so I will leave this item off.

Savings of $0.00

Taxes

Each year as the value of our cars decrease, our personal property tax will slightly decrease. However, the calculated savings is only a few pennies each month on both cars.

Savings of $0.00

1000 challenge transportation 3

Summary

The author cautions the reader- “willpower is a finite resource and, when you eventually run out of it, your grand penny-pinching plans will come crashing down. But cut your auto insurance bill once, and that savings is repeated — automatically — month after month after month, whether or not you manage to get up your gumption.”
I wanted to be completely realistic about this experiment. I’m not a radical change type of person. So, that was my simple tactic – to cut my spending in areas so unnoticeable, I wouldn’t even realize they were happening but the savings would accumulate in my bank account each month and be redirected toward the Lifeboat Fund

Here’s the running total for the whole series so far:

Month 1
Transportation: $52.90
Total Monthly Savings: $52.90

I’m already $47.10 short of my monthly goal, so we’ll have to see if I can make it up next month or if it will take longer to catch up. I’m remaining positive that I will still be able to meet my goal of saving $1,000 overall on monthly expenses. I figure there will be larger savings opportunities in some areas and smaller savings in others.

The next category of expenses I will review are utilities – electricity, natural gas, water, phone, and internet. Part 2 will be in a few weeks and we will see if I was able to trim $100 from my monthly utility expenses.

Tuesday, August 19

The Best Gift For Teachers

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This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Sharpie, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #SharpieBTS Disclosure Info

If you are a mother with a child who goes to school, then I am sure you have been on the eternal hunt for the best gift for teachers. Oh sure, you see amazing handmade pencil holders and other crafts on Pinterest, but is that what teachers really want? I decided to find out once and for all what it is that teachers want as gifts from parents. And you know what the number one answer was? Gift cards.  Who can blame them? It is a less tacky way of giving cash and that way the teachers can get whatever it is that they would like instead of having to have a list in the back of the classroom or send out emails begging parents for supplies. As a matter of fact, the only downside to a gift card is you don’t get to make something crafty. But I have the solution to that problem as well. I have been inspired by Smarty Had A Party to create a non-seasonal snow globe which is both an ingenious way to wrap a gift card and be a practical gift of a decorative jar or pencil holder for the teacher to enjoy. Here is how you make one:

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For this project you will need a plain jar (I used a honey jar which I washed clean and took off the label), a glue gun and glue, a gift card (mine is from Staples), the jar lid, and a white Sharpie marker.

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Start by placing a line of glue on the bottom of the jar lid. Then press the gift card into the glue and hold for a minute while the glue dries. Don’t worry, the glue is easy to pull off when the teacher wants to use the card.

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Next use your Sharpie pen to create a design on the jar. I drew a sort of retro dandelion flower all over. 

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Next, place the glitter at the bottom of the jar and fill with water. Pro Tip: Don’t use the fine glitter like I did. I found it couldn’t break the surface tension very easily. Use the normal sized glitter.

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Now screw the cap with the gift card on tight. Then shake to see the glitter effect. Isn’t it glamorous!

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The whole project took a few minutes, but looks like a million bucks! This technique can continue to be used for any occasion where you want to give someone a gift card in a fun and creative way. The Staples gift card is perfect for the teacher to use to buy classroom supplies, and the jar can be used as a pencil holder. 

You want to know something else about the awesomeness of Staples? All Sharpie Fine and Ultra Fine assortment packs and Sharpie Neon Marker packs are currently on sale at Staples through August 24th “while supplies last”.  So what do you ladies think? Do you have any other ideas on great teacher’s gifts? 

**Some of you have been wondering how easy/messy it is to get the gift card out of the jar. Such a good question and I am kicking myself for not taking pictures. All the teacher has to do is unscrew the top and dump the water/glitter into the sink. There was a little bit of wet glitter on the card when I tried it and I just rinsed it off in the sink. It was super easy to deal with- not like dried glitter at. all. **

Monday, August 18

Transitional Florals

FLORALS

The dog days of summer are upon us, but fashion is moving quickly into fall and winter. I happened to be in Bloomingdales the other day and the sales racks of summer stock had been picked clean and the mannequins were decked out in jewel tones and black. So much black! Now I happen to adore ebony and wear it quite often but not until at least October or November. Around here our summer lasts well into what everyone else considers autumn, which means I am still sporting my cute dresses until Halloween! I am not ready to give up on summer quite yet. To that end I decided the best thing to buy right now would be some of the transitional florals I have been spying in the stores. Here is a round-up of some of my faves! 

Rosado Sheath 

Paper Dolls Midi Skirt with Peplum Hem 

Louche Hydie Dress 

Pixel Plaid Sheath 

Floral skirt 8

Jo Midi Skirt 

Floral dress 11

“Glitch” Floral Fit and Flare Dress 

Floral dress 12

Abigail Dress 

Floral Dress 16

Roll Collar Dress 

Floral dress 10

All Occasion Pass Dress 

Floral dress 9

Floral Scuba Midi Skirt 

Floral dress 5

Everywhere You Glow Dress

Floral dress 6

Print Stretch Midi Dress

Floral dress 7

Scoop Neck Floral Fit & Flare Dress

Affiliate links were used in this post.

Sunday, August 17

5 Easy Week-Night Meals

 housewife 5.1

As a mother I am always trying to figure out what to feed the kids. I swear this is the single most important issue that concerns me throughout my day. Somehow, even though I adore cooking, my kids aren’t exactly what I would call gourmands. Inevitably no matter what I make, someone is going to complain. The good news is I have a repertoire of 20 different meals that are my “go-to” dinners because all of my family members like them. I put them together into this eBook, which you can purchase here and there is more information on it here

For those of you who have already purchased the book, for those of you who are thinking about it and still sitting on the fence, and for those of you who have zero intention of buying my book but still need some easy meals, I have put together a round-up of five more family meals I serve to the kids that I had already published on my blog. Try them and let me know how they turn out! 

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Turkey Meatballs (HERE)

Vegetarian Enchiladas

Easy Vegetarian Enchiladas (HERE

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Thai Steak Tacos with Cilantro Lime Rice (HERE)

Grilled fish taco

Fish Tacos (HERE

(photo via here)

Tomato soup

Summer Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (HERE)

(photo via here)

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