How to Grow a Frugal Lifestyle – #GroSomethingGreater

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Miracle-Gro for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

One of my favorite quotes is, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” We grew up without much money, so making the most of what we had was extra important. I learned my frugal, DIY, upcycling skills from my momma – and even today, when I have a much bigger income than I ever had when I was younger, I’m still always looking for ways to make my resources go farther.

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Get Started on the Paleo Diet – 100’s of Recipes & Free eBooks

“The greatest wealth is health.” – VirgilIt’s true, if you don’t have your health, nothing else really matters, right? And January is that time of year when we’re all kind of burned out on eating so many huge holiday meals, plus the loads of sweets and treats from the past couple of months, that we’re all pretty darn ready to commit to eating better in the new year. I’ve been using the new Weight Watchers Simple Start app to help get me motivated, and am always for new healthy recipes to add to my meal planning. One trend I’m really liking lately is the Paleo diet….

Tons of free Paleo recipes and tips

Getting Started on the Paleo Diet – Free Paleo Recipes and Tips [Read more…]

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How to Find Your Own Natural Beauty… #7dayjourney

“I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.” – Audrey Hepburn… You hear the term “natural beauty” a lot – but what does that really mean? Does it mean just skipping make-up? Is it about living organically? Do you connect the term with the beauty of nature that surrounds us? To me, it means living life in a way that is authentic, where your heart is happy, and you feel at peace. Being comfortable and confident in your own skin and being able to see the everyday joy in life is what makes someone beautiful – a relaxed smile on their face, good posture as they stand tall and walk with purpose, a glow that comes from being content with what you have and where you’re at. Since becoming a mother, I’ve gotten better at feeling as though I have “just enough” – who cares if I don’t have the latest handbag, when I have little toddler snuggles and smiles? And children grow so amazingly quickly, that it kind of forces you to slow down, to live “in the moment,” and to cherish the little things.

Kids have natural beauty [Read more…]

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The Benefits of Gardening as a Family

There are few activities as rewarding as cultivating a garden — by sowing a few seeds in the spring you can be harvesting armfuls of fruits and vegetables in the summer. There are a number of benefits to taking on this activity as a family, including saving money on groceries and having fresh and healthy produce to eat. But perhaps the greatest benefit is giving your child invaluable insight into the natural world around them.

Gardening Tips [Read more…]

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What is Your Happy Haven?

As most of you know, when I found out that I was going to be a mom, I started moving towards a cleaner, greener, lifestyle… I didn’t do this to be trendy. I didn’t do it to be cool. I did it, behind the scenes, imperfectly, to try and learn how to make changes that would keep us safer and healthier, without causing me to make totally drastic lifestyle changes. We’re still far from perfect, but I feel like we’ve moved miles away from the way we used to live! So, to help me along my way, I’m also always on the lookout for cool tools and resources that can help me make changes, without being extreme. A recent favorite of mine is HappyHavens.com. Learn why…

Happy Havens covers a wide array of topics from DIY and wellness to tips for saving money and going green. [Read more…]

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How to Pull Off a One Bag Event

Ready for your next event or party to go ONE BAG?… That means a party that creates only one bag of trash for an entire event, from birthday party to holiday open house.With a little bit of smart planning, and some of my fun entertaining tips – Anyone can make their next party a “One Bag Event!” You’ll spend less, waste less, and send less to the landfill. And THAT is something to celebrate!! Keep reading to see how I’ve hosted not one – but THREE! – parties over the past couple of weeks, and was able to make each of them a One Bag Event…

creative party foods for summer bbq

Let’s Talk Trash!…

This is a little peek at our recent celebrations – We had a Pirate Pizza Party a couple weeks ago, to celebrate getting our outdoor space ready for summer. We took the cover off of the in-ground pool to start prepping it for opening, cleaned up the grill, and spruced up the patio area. Then we had a super fun Tacos and Floats night, and got a free pair of tickets to the new Ice Age movie when we bought the supplies. {So cool, right?} Then just a couple of days ago we invited a few friends over for a Hot Dog Bar – which is when I created my little Hot Diggity Dog in the last pic. During the summer we entertain non-stop, which I love. What I don’t love is how much trash piles up after a party. So, I decided to give the Glad One Bag Challenge a try, and see if the tips and ideas they shared could help me cut down on all that garbage. Keep reading to see how we did, and learn how you can do it too…

green your party supplies

Learn How to Pull Off a One Bag Event

Honestly, I did not think we were going to be very successful with this challenge. I mean, we seem to always end up with a ton of trash after every BBQ. But, it wasn’t at all as difficult as I expected – it’s really just a set of small swaps you make that add up to a BIG decrease in what you have to toss at the end of the party. Here are the tips that worked best for us:

  • Invitations: Instead of spending a bunch of extra money on those custom designed invitations you’re thinking about, use an online invite site like Evite.com, Ping.com or punchbowl.com. Or reach everyone where they’re already at – set up an event page on Facebook to give everyone all of the party details – including reminders leading up to the big day!
  • Serving Dishes: Stock up on ‘real’ serving ware – either some fun melamine dishes like the French Bull 12-Piece Melamine Dinnerware Set, {have it, love it, use it all the time!} or choose compostable: sugar cane, fallen palm leaves, and corn are some of the most popular materials. For the past couple of parties I used these great compostable party plates, cups, and utensils – and I was blown away by how sturdy they are. Super cool green geniuses to come up with this stuff.
  • Decorating: Ok, this is one of my favorite ways to creatively cut down on trash. Instead of buying a pile of decorations from the party store that you’re just going to throw away afterwards, think about what you already have that you can use to brighten the party atmosphere. A few ideas – Jars: You could spray paint them and fill with flowers, or use them to hold pre-mixed party cocktails. Food: Use the food itself as the decoration, which leads to almost no waste at all. Make a Watermelon Turtle for summer BBQs, or use chips, dips, and other snack foods to build a Snackadium during football season. You could have the kids color their favorite coloring book pages and hang them like a pennant banner, or just use pics of the birthday child to decorate at their party. Tons of fun ideas.
  • During the Party: Make sure to set up an easy peasy spot to recycle – you could even use a Triple Laundry Sorter lined with Glad Bags {they now have less plastic, and more stretch – meaning you can stuff more into them and have less waste} to make it super simple for guests to toss their cans, glass bottles, and regular trash.

Now – Give yourself a big high five of congratulations! You just saved a ton of waste from clogging up your local landfills, did your part to leave our world a little greener and cleaner for your kids, and saved a ton of money too! Want to show off your success? Visit Glad on Facebook to tell them your story, and share a pic of your One Bag Clean Up! You can also get a ton of tools and tips on Glad.com too, to help you waste less at your next event!

Glad One Bag Challenge

Host a One Bag Event of Your Own!

Now that you know some great tips to cut down on party waste, and are going to visit the Glad.com site to learn more great ideas, you’re ready to host your own One Bag Event. If you do – I would LOVE to see your party pics too, so feel free anytime to stop by my Facebook page to share pics. I’d also love to hear your best “Green” party tips – Come join the conversation in my Smart Mom Chat room, and let me know what works best for your family parties. You guys are such smarties, I love hearing your ideas!

For more fun party ideas, see my collections of favorite Party Foods and Party Drinks on Pinterest!

{Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Glad and received a One Bag kit to facilitate my review, a kit to give away, and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.}

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The Secret to Big Savings on Your Energy Bills #GELighting

I’m a mom. And that means I have a lot of responsibilities. Not just to my daughter, but also to the world that she’s growing up in. The day that I found out I was pregnant was the day that I set out on a path to live a cleaner, greener life. There are a few things that I’ve learned along the way: Changing my old habits wasn’t as hard as I thought. Small changes really do add up. And living a greener life also leads to some big savings. Today, I’m going to show you a Smart Solution that you can use in your home too – Energy Efficient Lighting uses less resources, and can add up to big savings too.

energy efficient light bulbs

“According to ENERGY STAR®, up to 20 percent of residential electricity bills are from lighting.”

I have been meaning to learn more about the new energy efficient light bulbs for awhile now – but as a busy mom, my list of things to do is always much longer than the time I have to do them. So when I had the chance to be a part of this energy smart challenge, I knew it was the perfect time to make a change. But – how do I figure out which bulbs are the right ones for me, when there is this HUGE aisle filled with so many choices? I was hoping that there would be a sign or some flyers, but no luck. So – It’s a good thing that I’m always a smart shopper, and prepared ahead of time! I downloaded the free LightSmart app before I shopped – and this thing is pretty awesome at helping you figure out the perfect picks to light your home. So helpful.

energy smart light bulbs

“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.” – Aaron Rose

Most of the rooms in my home were built without overhead lighting – which is super strange to me. So the Master Bedroom, the living room, and the family room are all lit only by lamps. The kitchen has those long fluorescent lights, and the dining room has a chandelier that takes special bulbs. So I seriously thought I wouldn’t have that many to replace. Oh boy – I was wrong! There were 14 other bulbs in the lamps, hallways, and back bedrooms. Plus, BOTH bathrooms have big lights over the vanity that take FIVE bulbs each. That’s a total of 24 light bulbs to change, and a lot of different types to buy. What’s funny, is that I thought energy saving bulbs only came in that new spiral shape. I didn’t realize that there were tons of choices that look just like a traditional light bulb. Energy Smart Bright from the Start CFL and Energy Efficient Soft White are both really great options, and made up the majority of our purchase – but there are seriously enough choices for every type of lighting that you need, even outdoor lights. Our power company has a partnership with Walmart, and made special super-low pricing on some of the bulbs to encourage people to switch, so that takes away the whole, “CFL’s are too expensive” objection, since these ones are the same price as traditional bulbs – but save money when you use them. Abby had a great time reading the info on the packages, and learning how much money we were going to be saving. She’s a smart shopper like her momma.

energy smart bulbs

Should You Make the Switch To Energy Smart Bulbs?

One of the arguments that I’ve heard people make on why they don’t want to switch to CFL’s is that they contain mercury. But, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concludes that a typical CFL over the course of its life will put less mercury into the environment than using incandescent light to produce equivalent lighting. That’s great to know. And these new energy smart bulbs don’t hum, or flicker, or give off any weird light – and they really are “Bright from the Start” like the name suggests, not needing to warm up to get bright like some other bulbs. And as you can see – I was pretty excited about switching, so I bought a LOT of bulbs! {See the rest of our trip, and what other choices are available, in my tips album.}

energy savings on lighting

How small changes can save you lots of change

We’re on a very tight budget in my house, since I support Abby and I with only the income I make writing. That means that I’m always looking for small changes that we can make, that add up to big savings. And our energy bill used to be H-U-G-E. Here are some of the changes we’ve made already:

  1. Turn off lights. This one is pretty obvious, but it took a while to get everyone into a habit of turning the light off when they leave a room. But now, we’re so used to it that sometimes we shut the light off when someone else IS still staying in the room. Oops.
  2. Use the right watts. Not all bulbs need to be bright – hallways or closets can have lower wattage bulbs, which saves you money.
  3. Dust your lights. Yep, dusty bulbs can mean up to 10% less light in your room, which leads to turning on more lights to compensate.
  4. Use dimmers. These are a great option – you only use as much light as you need. And they’re great for parties if you haven’t cleaned – dim the lights and use candles, and people don’t see as much of the mess, lol.

And, if you really want to boost the savings to your energy bills – switch to GE Energy Smart bulbs. They’ll use up to 70% less energy – leading to BIG savings for your family. You can see in the pic above, there are bulbs for any need – the one on the right is our old bathroom light fixture bulbs, and the one on the right is the new GE Energy Smart bulb that will replace it. {Keep reading to see the before & after pics!}

“Use up to 75 percent less energy with a CFL bulb than with an incandescent bulb.” 

This video will totally show you how making the small change of switching to new bulbs can add up to savings lots of change! Love it. Another way to really see the savings is to check out the GE Lighting Savings Calculator – answer a couple questions, and see how big your families savings could be this year. Very cool tool. And I was amazed at the savings – for our home, it calculates that we’ll save $228.05 over the course of one year, and $1,249.06 over the life of the bulbs! Holy energy savings, Batman! That’s a lot of money.

using energy smart bulbs

“Live in rooms full of light.” – Cornelius Celsus

I have light fixtures like this in both of my bathrooms. They take 5 bulbs each, and since they are on all the time, the bulbs always burn out super quickly. And since I couldn’t use the plain ol’ cheap bulbs in these, they were expensive to keep up with. I love, love, LOVE that there are GE Energy Smart light bulbs that will work for this fixture – and look at what an amazing difference they make! For anyone who thinks that CFL’s won’t burn as bright as their regular bulbs – Let me tell ya, they are even better! I can’t believe what a great difference they’ve made in every room of the house. And a big bonus is that they last a loooong time, so you don’t have to worry about changing them out all the time. Love that – especially for those tricky lighting areas that need a ladder to get to.

Ready to make the switch? First, find out the savings to expect using the online energy savings calculator. Read more about what’s available, and why GE is the best choice in Energy Smart lighting. And grab the LightSmart app too if you’ve got a smartphone.

For more tips and tricks on saving money on your energy bills – follow GE Lighting on Twitter & Facebook – and follow #GELighting on Twitter!

{Disclaimer: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric}

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